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THIRD RAIL: End of the Line


Cebra

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Original Thread

A COLLABORATION BETWEEN CEBRA AND SLIMEBALL

 

A passion project between slimeball and I that we churned out in around a month after a gestation period of a couple: based on backstory we cooked up for various characters in Red Triangle, Bohemians and Blackjack, and days of research into 1980's organized crime. Probably the most outwardly - and intentionally - unorthodox work we really did. It's also some of the writing we're proudest of - at least in the broad conceptual stages, and if it ever or does ever get beyond the first few stages would bear/would've borne some legitimately personal moments drawn from incredibly personal themes - values, politics, addiction. Derrick is us: he is impotent, inadequate, a sellout and an addict.

 

We still want to do more of this but interest never seemed to pick up on it, which was gutting. We hope it eventually gets some feedback beyond really, utterly superficial elements. Or maybe it'll see the light of day in some other way.

 

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  1. Testa Dura
  2. Under the Wagon
  3. I Held You Once

 

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  1. Ruthless Gangland Warlord Poised to Take Mafia Throne, Liberty Tree

 

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Dramatis personae in the forging of a mythology of scumf*ckers.

 

THREE REVOLUTIONARIES, OR SO THEY SAY

Derrick McReary - A heroin addict and liaison to both the political and criminal underground.

Bucky Sligo - Proud communist and idealist drawn to the mob as a potential funding source.

Aiden O'Malley - Bitter Catholic who solely finds joy in the love of his life, and the Republic.

 

 

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Revolutionary

Julia Bledsoe - Aiden's girlfriend and Holland activist.

Allie O'Keeffe - Owner of the Steinway Beer Garden and IRA affiliate.

Fergal Enright - Head of the SEDT, a legit organizing group for Republicanism.
Osh Hoy - Terrifying IRA liaison and gun smuggler.

Jock Munro - Republican fugitive under an assumed name: Milo Selkirk.

Qistina Thawra - Imprisoned Maoist leader of the Abolitionist Revolutionary Cadre.

Boniface Pope - Openly gay anarchist second-in-command of the ARC.

Othman Ovyo - ARC logistics and muscle.

Rejeanne Coker - Southern anti-racist and 70's activist.

Vickie Joyner-Bass - Feminist poet and proud ARC member.

Deke Colquhoun - Former academic, current communist murderer, lover of Gladia.

Gladia Swain - Former left-wing activist, current communist murderer, lover of Deke.

Wade the Fixer - Texan fence, hitman, and 1970s political radical gone rogue.

 

Irish

John Jack McReary - Boss of the McReary crew, and cynical psychopath.

Maureen McReary - John Jack's wife, Derrick's disappointed mother.

Francis McReary - Derrick's f*ck-up younger brother looking for light in religion.

Kit Spoils - John Jack's protege and the son he always wanted: a nutcase murderer.

Craig Tolmie - Hitman and undertaker for the McReary crew.

Griff the Berk - Big Jack's driver unsuited for the underworld.

Kenny & Merrick Keir - Heroin-dealing brothers, who sell to Derrick at a discount.

Darby McEniry - Jack McReary's lughead advisor.

Jimmy Pegorino - Dipsh*t son of Alderney crimelord, and part-time friend of Derrick.

 

Messina

'Memo Smokes' Trungale - Acting boss of the Messinas: heroin dealer and habitual murderer.

Harvey Noto - Memo's deeply idiosyncratic apprentice, conflicted between his mentor and Jon Gravelli.

Harry Hall - Huckster pimp, coke dealer, lawyer, and pathological liar.

Mart Dio - Highly influential capo in the midst of starting a coup d'état.

Crazy Pans - Son of Mart Dio, being groomed as a post-coup prince.

Freddy Rigs - Loyalist of Mart Dio and truck hijacker.

Dodo Lank - Born in Dukes, but wishes he was a zip. Knows few English words; all of them slurs.

Tommy Waters - Aging and convicted Messina boss; Memo wishes to supplant him officially.

Joe Mundy - Hedgebury capo who aims to see Memo win the war.

Joe Ootz - Soldier of Joe Mundy with little in the world except his button.

Sally Mangano - Joe Ootz's Floridian protege.

Carlie Breeze - Batsh*t-insane hitman trained in kung fu. They hardly believe it, either.

Ugo Nistico - Sicilian underboss and heroin-connect for Memo.

Mel Schiavone - Biased ombudsman between the two Messina factions.

Mark & Fredo Volpe - Knucklehead sons of Freddy Rigs and loyal soldiers of Hal Noto.

Ollie Lulu - Quebecois heroin dealer and serial divorcee.

Bip the Zip - Imported Italian bodyguard of Memo Smokes.

 

Gambetti

Jon Gravelli - Trail-blazing boss with dissent in his ranks.

Bart Chiarugi - Fire-starter who finds himself emasculated as an underboss.

Peter Rea - Protege of Jon Gravelli, who is given special treatment.

Bobby Buffet - Idiotic driver of Chiarugi given more prestige than he can handle.

Redhead Reggie - Unpredictable ruler of a veritable murder machine of Gambetti assassins.

Genie Sbarra - Killer unsure whether to swear fealty to Chiarugi or Gravelli; his two mentors.

Johnny Pegorino - Boss of Alderney, which makes him a glorified capo.

Apollo Pompa - The brains behind Jon Gravelli.

Elmer Trout - Real name Seymour Odio, dustcart manager and Chiarugi loyalist.

Joe the Jew - Not actually Jewish, but the number two of Elmer Trout.

Cozzie Cangelosi - White collar brat of the deceased Sonny Cangelosi.

Rocky Sykes - Stone cold killer and dependable assassin.

Ricky with the Hair - Sycophant of Jon Gravelli.

Alfie Placanica - Once called 'the future of the family', now swayed by Chiarugi's calls to the past.

Muffy Chiarugi - Degenerate son of Bart Chiarugi.

Red Teddy - Part-Native friend of Pete Rea and Gravelli, with a love-hate relationship.

Marius Czarnik - Associate of Redhead Reggie who fashions himself a hitman.

 

Commission

Sil Squibs - Quiet boss of the Lupisellas.

Benny Jiff - Rapist Lupisella consigliere, based in Broker.

Sonny Honorato - Depraved and loyal hitman.

Dom the Wrench - Conniving sociopath and best friend of Leo Puleo.

Leo Puleo - Thuggish psychopath and best friend of Dom the Wrench.

Mark Lupisella - Caught between his love for boxing and his family in the mafia.

Vincent Lupisella - Lupisella boss for two years at most - imprisoned for 15 years in 1970.

Gil Donovan - Irish Lupisella associate and coke fiend with a habit for self aggrandizement.

Moe Schwartz - Lupisella bean counter with a half-Jewish heritage.

Louie Valvona - Hedonist boss of the Pavano family.

Vinnie Baldo - Pavano underboss widely considered the true brains of the family.

Dog Meat Menotti - Owner of a dog chow factory used primarily for body disposal.

Gio Ancelotti - Weaselly and unscrupulous boss of the Ancelotti family; widely disrespected.

Chubby Charlie - Grieving gangster after losing his fiancee and unborn daughter.

Tony Black Spoleto - White collar liar who'd make a buck as a motivational speaker.

Mihai Pokrass - Romanian hoodlum who invented an ingenious scam. Tony Black says he invented it - and that he's Russian, too.

 

 

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slimeball supreme

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Bottom right corner of the screen. Title card.

 

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Jerry Vale - I Want To Go With You plays as smoke fills the inside of a Chariot Remington cruising through rain-stained, dark Hedgebury street. The car, occupied by three shrouded men through the shadow and the tobacco fog, do not converse.

 

The man in the back seat makes a show of blowing his nose.

 

‘Ey.

 

Snorts. Keeps blowing.

 

You f*ckin’ quit that?

 

“Sti cazzi, ho il fottuto naso chiuso.” Backseat guy goes. “f*cked.”

Hey, my nose is all messed up.

 

“Just f*ckin’ quit it ‘til we get there.”

 

Come dici tu, eh, come vuoi, eh.

Whatever you say, eh, whatever you want, eh.

 

Car rolls up to a club on the corner where the neons are dimmer from the greens and reds dotting the streets: door in the corner-proper and highly packed flagstone walls. Name’s simple. Eponymous. No surprises.

 

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The Remington stops. Parks up, gets the suspension bouncing a moment while the three exit and two men at the door come to greet them. Three guys. Guy in the backseat with the handkerchief is a guy named Dodo Lank with pockface weighing in at 350 pounds. Guy in the driver’s is a man named Freddy Rigs with slicked back hair and a thin nose belying beady eyes.

 

And the passenger is Mart Dio. Fella with a cheek mole and a hairline a couple centimeters above the forehead. Takes one last, deep f*cking inhale of the smoke before dropping the cigarette onto the wet asphalt. Ahh.

 

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Marty, eh!

 

“Oh, what the f*ck. How ya’ doin’.”

 

Two guys in the doorway: Ollie Lulu, the mustache, Sicillian zip with the aforementioned and a thick Crowex and a beige polo shirt. Mel ‘the Skiv’, fat-nose f*cker with bunny ears in an open sports coat.

 

Come te butta, Oliviero, f*ckin’ sh*t, sei belle.” Dodo goes in for the hug with mustache.

How you doin’, Ollie, f*ckin’ sh*t, lookin’ beautiful.

 

Mustache reciprocates, “Sei bellisima, not belle. The grammar’s ain’t perfect. And the f*ckin’-a Roman sh*t.”

 

“Eh, f*ckin’ balls, cose sai di che cazzo di merda lo stesso? Scialla, magara.

What the f*ck do you know about that sh*t anyway? Easy.

 

The Skiv, “Youse do okay gettin’ in from Dukes?”

 

“Yeah,” Rigs says. Guy talks fast and trails off, “Still got the f*ckin’ agita, but I ain’t f*ckin’ complainin’, it’s nothin’, you know, forget it, what-the-f*ck.

 

“More about the rain, I meant.”

 

Rain’s fine,” Mart says. “How the f*ck we don’t we get the f*ck outta it?”

 

Right, right.” Skiv beckons, “C’mon. We unda’stand youse complaints and what youse been sayin’ about a certain somebody, a f*ck it, he knows too. And you know how he is. Testa dura. He’d be here but he sent the kid in his stead.”

 

Cuts to the inside of the empty nightclub. Lights are on. Vinyl flooring and a bar that ain’t stocked and the lights are only on for a certain part of the room - this garish combo of limes and oranges. Skiv leads and the four others follow.

 

Harvey Noto’s waiting by the entry.

 

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Rigs is asking “His stead--” then interrupts himself, smiles: “Oh! That f*ckin’ kid. Hally Boy, the hell you doin’.”

 

Noto is forty years old with chin-length hair and a monochrome suit rubbing circles in his chest behind the tie. Stops, “Freddy. Fellas.”

 

Marty, “We’d-a respected if Smokes came down--”

 

Skivs, “Well you know how the guy is--

 

But,” Mart is brusque, puts a hand up: “Appreciated all the same. I mean, we all wanna work things out.

 

“In realtà, tutta questa faccenda con i nostri disaccordi è comunque senza senso,” Dodo adds, speaks with his hands. “Bullsh*t.

Honestly, this whole thing with our disagreements is bullsh*t, anyway.

 

Ollie, “He’s saying it’s bullsh*t--

 

“Yeah, yeah, we got it-” Harv’ smiles. One hand on his chest and the other hand up, “We all want maturity. Memo too. And we all want things sorted. Sorted amicable. We sit down, we talk, right?”

 

“Exactly,” goes Mel.

 

And Mart Dio shrugs. “It’s what we wanna’ hear.

 

“Hell I tell you about this kid? And, you know, after this, we’ll celebrate, we got this f*ckin’ vintage sh*t and manicott’--”

 

I told you, Mel,” Rigs goes, “with the indigestions--”

 

“We’ll cure that sh*t.”

 

A-you know the grapes can help you with that kind of thing?” Ollie says.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I’m serious--”

 

Cut to black.

 

Blinking.

 

First person view is shrouded in darkness as you hear the conversation between the five men go on upstairs, muffled by the walls and the floors. Shaky breathing. You can move the joysticks for a limited look around the room - you can see the outline of a round table in the middle of the basement with stairs leading down from a door in the center.

 

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Pressing the button reintroduces you to the six men slowly proceeding through the nightclub to the same exact door. The basement door. You let go of that button, you’re back in the darkness. You press it, and you’re gifted with gab:

 

Madonna mia, no, she rides my ass about this whole thing.”

 

“Freddy--”

 

I tell ya,” he goes. “I mean it’s a whole thing. With the kids and the house and the mortgage--”

 

And the f*ckin’ dog,” Mart adds.

 

Cosa sai fare,” goes Dodo.

What can you do?

 

“Well nah,” Fred says. “It’s all the thing with the what and how you do with it and I mean--”

 

Che cazzo stai dicendo?” Dodo coughs. “f*ck?

What the f*ck are you saying?

 

“Speak f*ckin’ English.”

 

Dodo just murmurs, “Balls c*nt f*ck sh*t, eh.

 

The basement door opens.

 

Dark in here,” Marty says.

 

Mel Skiv, “The pull-switch is at the bottom. I know there ain’t no bugs--”

 

Freddy goes “Bugs?

 

“You don’t wanna risk it.”

 

Dodo clears his throat as he’s stomping down the stairs in the lead. “Obtineo et teneo. Balls the c*nt, eh?”

 

Harvey laughs. “What the f*ck you even talkin’ about?”

 

This-a goddamn mutt,” Lulu croaks.

 

Harvey finds the light. Pulls it.

 

Back in the closet; you’re swamped with the brightness. Eyes adjust, the guys keep talking. The three from the bar - Lulu, Skiv, Noto - they all stand at the end of the staircase. The three from the car spread around, look for the chairs. “Where’s the chairs?” Marty asks.

 

Lulu chuckles. “In-a the upstairs, yeah?

 

Freddy, “You ain’t brought ‘em down?

 

Ollie looks right at you. Right through the crack in the closet. Camera pulls out the see the naked eye staring through at the collective.

 

Ollie bites his pinky finger.

 

That’s the signal.

 

In an instant, you and three other men in balaclavas burst right out of the doors with guns drawn. All four in full body coveralls: two skinny fellas in the middle, one average and one large. Large guy’s got a double-barrel out. Other three have submachine guns.

 

A voice shouts “This is a f*ckin’ hold-up!

 

What the--

 

“--holy--”

 

Pow - Harvey Noto immediately takes a swing at Freddy Rigs and brings him clean down to the floor. He collapses over onto Dodo Lank, the big fella stumbles before rushing at you three.

 

Fire.

 

The camera cuts back to first-person as soon as you pull the trigger and the SMG in your hands starts spraying. The bullets dart up the leg of Dodo as he shouts and wallop: the guy with the shotgun fires his rounds clear at the man’s big gut. They fly. Intestine rolls out and he fires another buckshot across the room at Mart Dio, shells smack into the legs, the guy falls over backwards into a shelf and knocks a bunch of knick-knacks onto the floor.

 

Fred Rigs scrambles up but gets his own taste when he tries making a run for the stairs - gets distracted by the fact Lulu and Noto are halfway up with the block - trips over Dodo lying dead on the floor. Screaming as he’s clawing at the concrete ground but it ain’t his screams, it’s Dio wailing. One of the guys with the submachine guns walks up and puts him out of his misery.

 

A jar of something broke when the shelf fell onto the floor. Mart Dio is sitting in a heap of shattered glass and splintered wood and his blood seeping out his pant leg. You’re in control now. You approach, submachine gun in both hands, breathing soft. Noto and Lulu are coming to survey the scene, the other three guys behind you. Skiv is gone. Must’a dipped.

 

You stand at the foot of a dying man. Snakeskin boots, red like his insides come outside.

 

Finish the job.

 

Derrick breathes heavy, points the SMG square at the man’s head, and holds the trigger down.

 

You don’t see his skull get torn apart by the bullets. Smoke flies. Lights flicker. The dust settles.

 

There are three dead men in the basement of Flagstone’s.

 

“Holy f*ck!” That’s Noto. “Goddaaamn! Fuuuck me.” Puts a raggedy hand through his hair and slumps against a wall, slides down onto the floor. Laughing - not fun, coping.

 

Lulu scratches at his upper lip, puckers, pops. Does the OK-hand with his left before spitting out “Smells like the f*ckin’-a dumpster in here, like asshole.”

 

Noto, “Che putz’.

 

Gets a chuckle from Lulu and one of the balaclava fellas. Guy runs his hand through his hair, turns to him: “Calò, eh, you okay?”

 

Balaclava who laughed, guy furthest right looking from the stairs, he rips off the mask. Big nose guy with beady eyes and a high hairline, cuts at the air, “Madon’, could see the f*ckin’ pasta fly out that f*ckin’ Dodo Lank’s f*ckin’ gut, f*ckin’ wow.

 

Masks get torn off. Hair stuck to foreheads and sweat glistening. Derrick takes his off last.

 

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Fat guy with the shotgun, Marius, he places it flat on the table and lets out this guttural groan. Hard breath. Cal, he goes over to Lulu, starts conversing in broken-meets-unbroken Italian. Bucky, dark eyes scruffy f*cking Buchanan Sligo, comes to you.

 

Cal, “Hell they call him Lank for anyway--

 

“Derrick, Dicky, man,” goes Bucky. Nasally Broker accent shining thick, “You good?

 

Derrick, “Me f*ckin’ ears. Lotta’ noise, Buck.”

 

“Tends to happen. Wid’ the gunfire.

 

“Cheeky prick.”

 

“We’re almost there, almost there. You with me?”

 

“I’m with ya’, yeah. I’m with ya’.

 

“Couple more steps,” Buck goes. “We’re done. We get good.”

 

Yeah, yeah. Just gimme’ a second.”

 

Bucky salutes with a clenched fist. Derrick nods. Does it back.

 

Abrupt cut.

 

The bodies of the three capos lie on drop cloths. Lulu’s upstairs, Noto’s got his sleeves rolled. Boiler suits stay on as the camera slowly pans and you hear crunch, crunch, saw, saw. Snap. Stops on Marius - Marius with a hacksaw. Coveralls covered in blood.

 

He’s got Freddy Rigs. Snap. Pushes the dismembered leg away and starts working on the other one, this wicked smile the fella’s got as he cuts deep into the flesh. Dolly moves onto Noto overseeing Cal pulling off Mart Dio’s snakeskin boot with a big, big knife.

 

You and Bucky are working on fat Dodo Lank. Derrick wipes his brow. Blood is splattered on his hands - he uses the sleeve. Bucky says, “Goddamn it, he’s a big f*cker.

 

It’s interactive. Button prompt instructs you to saw back, saw forth, saw back, saw forth. Slightly below his elbow as you dig through the skin and then the adipose and then the muscle and bone. Derrick spits. “Big bastard.”

 

“We need three, probably,” Bucky goes.

 

And Noto barks “Ca’mon. Ain’t that bad.”

 

“Had to f*ckin’ slot the f*ckin’ pasta and the f*ckin’ guts that was drippin’ out his fat f*ckin’ gut,” Buck says.

 

You’re still cutting until pap. Arm comes off. “There a way to restrict the blood flow?”

 

“Nah, Dicky.”

 

“He’s mostly dry. Think we got most the blood when the Polack shot him.”

 

“Y’here that, Polack?” Noto’s talking to Marius, and Marius isn’t replying. “Did us a favor.

 

Marius doesn’t reply. He’s still smiling, though.

 

Awkward chuckle as people get back to what they’re doing. You’re cutting at the top of the arm near the shoulder now, through the fella’s bingo wings, “You got another hacksaw?” Derrick’s cutting with a kitchen knife. “Feels like I’d need that goddamn hacksaw with this guy.”

 

“You need some help?” Noto says.

 

You wanna get your hands dirty, Hal?

 

Guy stomps over, “Why not, why not, f*ck it, fat f*ckin’--” comes with his own knife and puts it parallel with yours and says “We do it synonymous, alright? At the same time.” 

 

Bucky laughs at the malaprop, but it ain’t worth wasting breath on. Derrick just nods.

 

Button prompts are timed. In, out. In, out. In, out, in, out. Until you’re starting to actually saw through the spindly bone and even Harvey’s breaking a sweat and--

 

Abrupt cut to black.

 

At the rear of the building is a Vapid Speedo with the rear doors wide open. Plastic tubs in the back. Grunting. Grunting. Cuts to the rear door with Derrick carrying this big tub with both hands clasped on the bottom; Bucky following behind with hands in his jacket pockets.

 

Bucky, “You sure you don’t need no help with that?

 

“Nah, Buck,” Derrick heaves. “Nah. Goddamn peachy, I am.”

 

“‘Cause you’re driving.”

 

I’m driving?

 

“Yeah,” Bucky’s grinning, “yuz’ driving. I ain’t got my license.”

 

Bucky,” Derrick goes. Thrusts the box into the back of the truck and takes a minute to catch his breath; hand keeping balance flat on the truckbed. “That don’t matter. We get pulled over we’re f*cked.

 

“You remember we’re we’s goin’?”

 

“Yeah, yeah. Pete the Wop and that guy Tony.

 

“Yeah.”

 

Alright, alright. Just gimme’ a moment.”

 

Derrick lingers. Wipes his brow. Waits on your input - he’ll be having his moment until you click the sticks or press the buttons and get the guy walking to the car. Get inside. Engine’s already on; Only Ocean is tuned on the radio with Lizzy Mercier Descloux playing through the tinny speakers.

 

Drive to The Bowels.

 

My god, am I f*ckin’ glad to get the f*ck outta that tacky sh*thole.

 

Gets Derrick chuckling a smidge. “What, our friends with the Smoke, you ain’t pleasantly edified by their conversation? You ain’t got your brain so filled with fun little f*ckin’ facts it’s rubbin’ up against your skull?”

 

“No,” Bucky says. “Unfortunately, that ain’t the case.”

 

Goddamn imbeciles.

 

“I was told that Noto was a brainiac. At least for these wiseguys, right? You expect a brainiac to have read a f*ckin’ book at least f*ckin’ once, eh? Or somethin’. What these guys talk about - sex, pussy, they shoot sh*t about TV. That whole f*ckin’ club’s got the collective smarts of a goddamn ashtray.”

 

“I hear ya’.”

 

“What - sub 80? I don’t think a single triple-digit motherf*ckin’ IQ was in there, man, I’m tellin’ you. I’m surprised we got any brains at all.”

 

Hey.

 

“What?”

 

“You don’t disparage the dead, Buck, the bodies is still warm back there.”

 

And you got respect for these guys. You know their names? I don’t remember their names.”

 

“One was named Lank.”

 

“Which?”

 

“The fat one.”

 

Ha. “He ain’t.

 

“I know. It’s what that guy said, the- euh…” starts snapping his fingers, “-f*ckin’ Calogero. The Canadian guy, Lulu’s guy.”
 

Who?

 

And Derrick cackles. “Come on, man. Lulu’s the guy with the mustache. With that Italian accent.

 

Oh him, yeah, yeah, I get you, I get you. Ha, man, if Aiden tagged along--

 

Groans, “Lucky boy.”

 

“Nah nah nah, your pa wanted us, he got us. Aiden- I mean, I won’t submit him to that. You think I have a problem with this sh*t with the names, you know Aiden. He goes in there he won’t know who the f*ck to shoot he gets so confused with these guineas. Tony over here, there’s Tony over there. I mean, you know with these f*ckin’ guys, Dicky.”

 

“I get it.”

 

“Morons. Whole lotta’ them, morons. And they’re getting guys over to that- uh… the cowboy boots--”

 

Mart Dio.

 

“With the automatics he was hiding.”

 

Derrick sniffs. “‘S’what Mundy said.

 

“We shoulda’ done that. God, we shoulda’ done that. And we got on this detail.”

 

“If pa wanted us on that, pa would’a told us to go do that.”

 

I know. I ain’t complaining.”

 

Yes you are. You’re whinging.”

 

“Hey. Hey. We get more good on this, more dough. And f*ck if it ain’t worth it for that alone. Good money’s good money’s all you know how it is I mean-” and Bucky does what Bucky does. Bucky trails off into mumbling. Hear the lighter click-clicking and the passenger window rolling down.

 

You’re headed to the Dukes-Broker border: mostly a straight line through Schottler down the Main Drag into East Liberty. Over where you’re from it’s industrial and post-industrial ghetto. Over here it’s redlining ghetto. It’s the kind of ghetto you get when they truly do not give a f*ck about who goes there, who lives there, what happens there. Bucky’s got an arm out the window now and the smokes trailing behind the van, more smoke than there should be, hole in the exhaust smoke. Not that anyone’s out here to care. Moses, Milden, Van Benthen: whatever avenues you take, you’re headed to the wasteland.

 

The Bowels are Hell on Earth.

 

It’s been raining so the puddles are forming - the neighborhood’s on the downslope about 30 feet below the rest of the neighborhood. It’s lost. The few houses there are peeling and falling apart, collapsed sheds and fallen fences and the mud’s up past the shoe level. Up to your ankles in mud, in some places. It’s dirt roads and flooding and graffiti and literal cesspools as the van leaves trails in the muck and the water. A chicken cluck-clucks by. It’s like you’ve left Liberty City.

 

It’s Peter Rea’s dumping ground.

 

There’s a particular lot you’re headed to. Through an open chain-link gate and high reeds and dirt roads and the rusted remains of old construction equipment near an all-black Dundreary Virgo with the headlights on. Bucky goes “That’s them up there, I thinks” and Derrick goes “Most definite.

 

As you ride in through a path made by tire-treads in the soil, you’re noticing holes. Holes about a couple feet deep, definitely not six. Shovel.

 

Two men are present. One, in leathers with finger-jewelry up the wazoo, is adjusting his jacket cuffs and scratch-scratching his face. The other - in a black turtleneck and white double-breasted trench coat with a gold crucifix shining off the headlights - he’s got two fingers around a cigarette stub; checking his watch then having eyes zip back to the Speedo.

 

Trench coat: Rea. Leather jacket: Tony.

 

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You slow the van.

 

Brakes whine when you pull up beside. 

 

There’s a moment where it’s just stares in both directions - Rea with the smoke and the eyes checking out the van and Tony scanning f*ck-knows-what. You catch it, Buck’s just bemused.

 

Rea goes “You the Micks?”

 

“I’ve heard it said,” Derrick answers.

 

“Took your sweet f*ckin’ time, huh? Get caught up somewheres? You think a’ the fellas who got their wife and kids at home, middle of the night like this, waitin’ around?”

 

He’s breaking balls, probably. Derrick just goes “Nah.”

 

So he asks “The f*cking sh*t go good?”

 

“It f*ckin’ went, sure.”

 

Rea smokes, smiles. “I dunno what you know, y’know? But let’s hope it means interests can stay green for a while.”

 

Sure. You know.

 

Tony steps forward - the c*nt - checks Bucky out in the passenger. Headlights flicker onto dirt ahead as he paces in front of the van. “Heard youse was some f*cking commies or something though, that pinko Santa Claus sh*t. That's what you’re here for, rob the scratch and spoils off our plate?”

 

Bucky pipes up. “A spectre is haunting East Liberty.”

 

Pair of blank stares. Beat of ‘em.

 

c*nt blinks, “Yeah,” feigns talking to Rea but you know where it’s directed, “But speakin’ of, why ain’t they sent Kit Spoils or nothing? He don’t say too much that don’t need saying.”

 

Gets Derrick a laugh but nothing escapes the lips.

 

Rea shrugs. Looks right at you. “You know Kit Spoils?”

 

Bucky’s turn to laugh.

 

“Yeah, I know Kit Spoils,” Derrick tells him.

 

Takes one more puff and then Rea tosses the smoke with a flick of the finger. 

 

“Irregardless, boys, the holes is over there.” Points across the dirt path into a clearing under these trees bereft of leaves, bark peeling. “They was dug in advance, y’know, but I dunno if it’s enough. Some big f*ckers in there, huh? So Tony left you some shovels should you so f*ckin’ need. Dig all the way to China, you want, maybe you’d like that.”

 

“Might just do that,” Buck says.

 

“Well, best a’ luck to ya’ then.”

 

A heel turn and Rea goes around, gets into the passenger seat. 

 

Where you goin’?” goes Buck.

 

Pete says “Home,” and shuts the door.

 

They start driving away. Stop quick, Tony opens the window.

 

Pete calls out from the side “Make sure’n close the f*ckin’ gate on your way out.”

 

And with that, they’re gone.

 

Huh.

 

Derrick says “What?”

 

“Thought they was- huh. Yeah. Okay.”

 

“What, help?

 

“Yeah.”

 

With these guys, no. You think Pete’s staying around for that, oh no.

 

“Lazy goddamn wops, man.”

 

“Careful, Buck,” Derrick says, starts slow rolling the truck to the right, “that’s a generalization right there.”

 

“Nah, Dicky, these wops. These goddamn sloth. Ain’t got a problem with the Italians, legit Italians, ones who broke their f*ckin’ backs for this city, for the plutocrats. You know what I means.”

 

“I do, just don’t go sayin’ it around them. Don’t think they’d appreciate that kinda craic.”

 

Van pulls up to the graves; Dicky puts the stick in neutral.

 

“Ready?”

 

Bucky’s already out. “Let’s get it over with.”

 

Get out, engine still running, dim headlights illuminating the ready-made graves, holes, whatever they are. It’s dead quiet, just the whistle of wind through dry branches and fence slats, howls whipping across the lot. This is barely Liberty City, barely anything. No traffic, no voices in the dead of night.

 

They stand at the graves.

 

“These are shallow as hell.” That’s Bucky.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Said he left us some shovels.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

They’re right nearby, perked up against a willow tree.

 

“Let’s get the f*ck to it, I guess.”

 

Cut. Derrick heaves the plastic tub out the back of the van while Bucky digs a little extra. Wet soil and shoe squelch and Buchanan muttering to himself, “Goddamn crap, man--

 

Too much for ya?

 

“Shoulda’ brought some f*ckin’ boots a’ some f*ckin-” flings the muck with the shovel out behind him, “-woauf. Some f*ckin’ sh*t like that.”

 

Derrick stands at the edge of the grave.

 

Button prompt - he unclicks the lid to reveal the festering, bloody remains. A stew of mangled body parts. Bucky grabs at his nose and nearly spews. Derrick would if he had the hands to do it.

 

Bottom prompt - joystick or movement key down. The viscera is emptied into the hole. Fingers split at the joints, blood coagulating and drying at the bottom. No corpse smell. The meat hasn’t rotted and the parts aren’t green: it’s flesh smell, meat smell. Butcher smell. Abattoir.

 

When the parts are out, he drops the thing in with the rest. A shell.

 

Derrick grabs his knees and retches.

 

Goddamn animals.

 

“We’re the animals, Buck.”

 

Who’s idea was this? That Memo guy’s. He’s the animal. Your pa. Those f*cks at the f*ckin’ tacky f*ckin’ bar. Shoulda’ just popped these f*ckin’ goombas in the dome and let them lie.

 

Gagging, gagging, doesn’t let anything out. Derrick wipes his mouth all the same. “You’re preaching to the choir. Preachin’ to the choir.

 

“You alright?”

 

“Just want this f*ckin’ done.”

 

“I’ll get the second.”

 

Derrick pauses. Thinks a moment. Thumbs at the corner of his lips and lets out a croaky “I’m gonna take a breather.”

 

Bucky hesitates.

 

Goes on. “Have fun.

 

He knows.

 

Get some privacy.

 

You’re given ample space to search the barren lot for a perfect cocktail of ‘rest’. Where it ain’t too muddy or it ain’t muddy at all, where you’ve got good cover and no chance of a stray eye on you. Derrick wanders, starts itching at his arm and checking to make sure what’s needed is on the inside of his jacket.

 

You find it, eventually. A flat board from a disassembled dresser next to a rusted out car.

 

Derrick gets down. The camera gets close.

 

He takes off his shoe, and then his sock, and tap-taps on the sole of his foot.

 

A matchbook, a little baby measuring spoon that’s all black from burning up. A syringe. It’s an intimate process. Delicate and meandering in the effort it takes, especially outside.

 

Hold down the contextual button. Push off.

 

Derrick is addicted to heroin. Very addicted. Gameplay is simple; fella’s always chasing a fix. Shooting up at least every other day ‘lest the side effects build - no focus, no mind, anxiety, heart going rapid. It’s harder to drive, harder to live. Dialogue gets slurred and story missions are either delayed until fix or get bungled up. You can’t go cold turkey. Your addiction stays. You need it.

 

Rush for a couple seconds. Derrick starts mumbling. Rush subsides.

 

Cuts. He’s half-nodding off. Contextual button means get up. And Derrick’ll use the car for support, and hop on shaky legs with mana in his veins, and going’s all you can do.

 

Bucky’s waiting by the car flicking his Dippo open and shut. Open and shut. Looks up at you, “You catch your breath?

 

“Yeah. I’m good.”

 

“I’ll drive. Big galoot, c’mon, hop to it.” Pockets the thing and gets in the driver.

 

Now we ain’t got no bodies in the car ya’s fine to drive.

 

“Alright, alright. Peace and quiet. Alright.”

 

Get in.

 

Bucky drives. Like taking a taxi - the distorted, swimming city in it’s black and yellow and rain-skew hues as the wheels leave trails and Buchanan doesn’t even try small talk. Dicky might: “And the money- we get that--?

 

“Tomorrow, yeah. I’ll send my cut to Qistina, maybe we talk to her. Tag along.”

 

Sure.

 

“She’s good peoples, Dicky.”

 

I know.

 

Not much more.

 

You’re headed to Aiden’s apartment.

 

Guy lives westways. On the edge of Steinway off the elevated subway tracks - unit housing in some side streets near the boulevard, near a little cemetery up the road. Among a series of red-brick rowhouses is a pretty white roof. Distinguished.

 

Bucky pulls up.

 

C’mon, Dick.

 

Get out. Buck kicks the black chain-link gate out with a shoe-sole.

 

Follow.

 

Aiden and Julia are on the couch.

 

PQgC2zy.png

 

Aiden’s the little bearded beatnik-type in the chunky brown sweater. Julia’s the gap-tooth gal got kinky hair that feels like it goes on and on past the shoulders. They’re both huddled on the couch. Aiden’s half asleep.

 

Julia isn’t. “Oh.

 

Bucky says “Hey.”

 

Hi. Buck. How--”

 

I’m fine.” Derrick stumbles on in through the door, “Was with Dicky out doin’ stuff.”

 

Derrick waves.

 

Aiden mutters, half-asleep, “Huh?

 

“It’s nothing,” Buck says. “Let him sleep. Just gonna crash. You mind I sleep here?”

 

Julia doesn’t say much more. Just “Oh. Okay. Sure. Uh… yeah. Sure.”

 

Go to bed.

 

The place has two bedrooms upstairs and a guest down. Derrick’s got a place to sleep here - and he’s got somewhere else. A little more ancestral. For now: you’re headed up the staircase, past the en-suite bathroom, to Derrick’s home away from home.

 

You don’t even have to press a button.

 

Derrick falls onto the mattress like a rock.

 

Save.

 

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Edited by slimeball supreme

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  • 4 months later...

Kc5MacPLHoHk9F43aSCnXGal-QQBMozWE0Pi6iv8e5AW58McE2n0W2Fi9T8jqcXseb1WkEA3yDcDQlNvuGBey-F90ge4Z6JwX8aODTjBc5PXNpSlTY1h6B0_GPp00RFh3qhu72PS

 

Wake up.

 

Wake up.

 

Derrick wakes up.

 

Stretches. Sniffs.

 

Lost the jacket and pants at one point. He’s there, spread eagled, tank top and blue boxers over a mess of sheets and caseless pillows. Camera beams down on him from the position of the ceiling fan.

 

Sits up and cranes his neck.

 

The room’s doing double duty as storage: boxes this-side-upped in the corner up to the window, packing tape and bobbits on the dresser. Analog clock alongside an ashtray says it’s almost noon.

 

Oops.

 

Doesn’t garner him much of a reaction because it’s part and parcel of a late-night heavy duty/dragon-riding combo. Derrick heads to the window instead, checks past the balloon curtains into the courtyard below. 

 

Truck’s gone. So’s the canary yellow Estampido that either belonged to Aiden or Julia and it didn’t much matter which. When they’re staying together with one goes the other.

 

Get dressed and leave.

 

Your clothes are in a pile on the floor - either head straight for them and button up or take a quick detour to the bathroom one room over for a quick refresher: some cold water in the face, eyedrops from the medicine cabinet for good measure. The room’s tiny and tiled pink top-to-bottom and Derrick seems kind of fascinated by it.

 

Ain’t the first time he’s crashed here, though he usually made it out before its renters scattered. You explore, won’t do you any harm or foul - bedroom across the hallway’s the master, unmade bed and a cockatiel in a cage by the window: Derrick says “Hiya Noble”, he gets back a “Hello” and then a “Is it good?” over and over again while bobbing his head and raising his crest.

 

Is it?

 

Down a carpeted flight of stairs into the kitchen; Derrick knows where he’s going, that through the back courtyard is the quickest way there sans car. Grabs a piece of toast left on the counter and locks the door before hopping out and down a step.

 

And there’s Aiden.

 

There’s Aiden.

 

Aiden O’Malley sits on the back stoop in the same-old brown sweater with a pack of Redwoods face down on the concrete. He’s biting his nails, cocks his head to see you approach and then nods. Goes back to it.

 

Derrick goes “Hey.

 

Aiden exhales and replies “Dia duit.

 

“Not with Julia, are you?”

 

And Aiden laughs and says “Evidently not, am I? Yeah, she’s off. Uptown, she said.”

 

“And you ain’t gone off with her?”

 

Bad dose a’ the... er, me head. Slept like a rock, can’t think, can’t drink, she had sh*t to do. So y’know. Just kinda’ f*ckin’ faffin’ about now. Knackered to f*ck. You off?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Where to?”

 

“Bucky’s kinda-” breathes, “f*cked off. So I was gonna head down to the Garden and see what’s what.”

 

“Aye?”

 

Yeah.

 

“You mind I tag along? Talk to Allie.”

 

And Derrick shrugs and says “I don’t mind.

 

“You walkin’?”

 

“My car’s back at my place. No way on the subway. And, I mean, why not? So yeah, was gonna stretch my legs. Only a half hour or so anyways. She took your car?”

 

“It’s our car. Gettin’ the messages or that, I dunno. I’d like to.

 

“Like to get the messages?”

 

Aiden laughs, puts out the cigarette, and says “No. C’mon, then. Let’s stretch the legs, eh.

 

Walk to the Beer Garden.

 

It’s only a couple blocks away.

 

“Thinkin’ the air might do good for me head or what-have-ye. Bitin’ off heads and that for nothing- ‘sa f*ckin’ migraine or something is what it is, maybe.

 

“The air’s good for it.”

 

And seein’ everyone too, maybe. The old crowd. How’s was the thing with them Italians, were it?”

 

“Were it some f*ckin’ sh*t, Aiden. Weren’t it just.”

 

“You do sh*te for’em and it’s never even any fun. And you’d think the dopes’d be good conversationalists, make up for the f*ckin’ pin heads. No noggin’ f*ckin’ nothin’s.

 

“We ain’t made you tag along.”

 

Oh, but you will.”

 

“You didn’t wanna be there for this one, Aiden.”

 

“What? Guinea sh*t on the walls you had to clean up?

 

“Something like that.”

 

“Howya’ mean?”

 

Well, think of it this way. I’m in the car with Buck away from the bar and we’re sayin’ the exact same sh*t. The bar is in Hedgebury, and we gotta cross Broker. And meanwhile we got- it doesn’t even matter.

 

“Cross town for what?”

 

Again. Y’dunno the half. And all the while all me and Bucky can say is - these f*ckin’ wops aren’t good for nothin’. They ain’t good for talkin’, ain’t good for payin’, and they ain’t no good for a f*cking shooting neither. So what are they good for?”

 

What - some f*ckin’ imbeciles ruling the roost,” Aiden goes, “never put no work into it, inherited it all from their fathers and their grandfathers, and… y’want independence? Is that it?”

 

Oh.

 

“Yeah. Ha. Thought I weren’t goin’ there, did ye?”

 

“And here I was thinkin’ it was big men in high towers sh*tting on the poor and f*cking needy.

 

“And here you thought a lot of things. Here you thought part of it. Julia’s good,” subject change is like a f*cking whip crack, “Real good.

 

“Saw your car gone out the front, thought you’d gone with.”

 

Again.

 

“Again what?”

 

Our f*cking car, Derrick. Our car.”

 

You pause at a crosswalk, taxis to and fro. It’s spring, cool-breeze spring. Aiden pulls his jacket closer.

 

“Yeah, our lemon, more like.”

 

Gets a guffaw. “Yeh, there’s a reason they’re callin’ it the Malaise era, believe it or not. These gas guzzlers. Domestic policy. Grand load a’ bollocks, that is. Reckon the thing would catch fire if you let it idle in the sun to boot.”

 

“Sign of the times, Aiden.”

 

He just scoffs.

 

Where are you in little old Steinway? You’re on Ticonderoga now, skip the half-hour it is to them and is in real life and cut it up into a gameplay sized jaunt: it’s townhouses, it’s half-urban suburb, it’s Dukes. Mighty fine. Ghetto-yellow license plates on boxcar American models putting between narrow residential streets. Little nooks and crannies, little alleyways, little chain-links at about knee height tangled in between the grass. It’s housing intercut with little side-streets for parking looping around entire blocks. Spray-paint on the sidewalk and a broken window gone unfixed and newspapers out on the front patio and some old f*ck on a folding chair in his bathrobe smoking cigars.

 

Is the J pleased, then?

 

Derrick’ll hesitate, “Not too sure. Maybe he’ll be around.

 

“With this whole thing of his I’m hoping-the-f*ck he’s pleased with himself, get that at least if the boys are doin’ nixers for f*cking gobsh*tef*ckingnothingdonteven--

 

“Spare me.”

 

Sighs, “Sorry.

 

“Don’t need you giving me sh*t and then going down and getting sh*t from him.”

 

“And you let him?”

 

If I want a paycheck, Aiden, yeah. I let him grab me by the f*cking ear. And you got no right to talk about me and my f*cking da besides.”

 

Aiden shrugs. “Maybe so.”

 

Steinway Beer Garden looms.

 

1HWH3rafypN--wYQ6mQyWUNESzgiah0GPVMsfvW2Vk1DvaUBns2FmAdzs-gJRnHccSPnjiIgfFDXkann4nFoBYYb7cNmP4_fX0UcZ3yT_P7MAwDdDrxpsNjdov0ymD2bQPkxacUN

 

Steinway Beer Garden was, for a very long time, German owned. That was around 1919 as a gathering hall for Bavarian immigrants, and then shut during prohibition, and then reopened by a family of Bohemian-Americans in the 1930’s. And then the owner of that place found himself indebted to a man named Lorcan ‘Lucky Luke’ McReary. In which it became a little less German, and enough of an impetus for some of the Purgatory guys to come out to Steinway. The Steinway Hall Picnic Grounds. Adjacent to the bar was a two-story office building originally a Freemasons Lodge, which was part of the property and sold off to Lucky Luke.

 

It became headquarters for the Van Huysen Paving Company.

 

Lorcan McReary was Derrick’s grandfather. And when Luke passed away the deed fell to John Jack: who inherited his father’s position at the paving company, but didn’t give much of a f*ck about running a bar. Alistair O’Keeffe did.

 

You know the Steinway Beer Garden. It’s brick walls with the trees poking out; walls covered in big splash-advertisements for beer brands. Big orange-and-green flag hanging above the wooden entryway with the castle doors shut. Open them and you find the garden itself empty, since the place ain’t officially open - umbrellas and plastic chairs left vacant by the pathway into the bar bar.

 

Those doors open and you hear ruckus.

 

Merrick Keir has Kenny in an armlock.

 

Derrick just stares.

 

Oh, what the f*ck?!

 

Barman chirps “Aiden, buddy!” 

 

Kenny punches Merrick in the face.

 

This sh*t again, this f*ckin’ sh*t again--”

 

Derrick goes “Aiden, it’s nothing--”

 

What is this?!

 

And the barman, Allie, he just says “A bit of rough-housing and that.

 

QkG_lWnkcx4taD6TTQ7Quhu_zhcEcLX1OBRSllj0MxLeHObN3hwQUnZExCQ9UaVh4ussnnGgzJ_dicxfzR0MKT1pWIygyZGgpuYLOXc0-xo4DBeBBGGDwN0Sm6-SAcmeS9x6zL7m

 

They’ve cooled it. Merrick’s rubbing at his cheek and lets out this ugly groan and says “How’re ya’ doing, Aidy boy?”

 

Aiden bites his lip and ignores them.

 

Merrick goes to Derrick - “What’s up his ass?

 

“Something about a bad dose.”

 

“Like medicine?”

 

Slang.

 

“Slang? Slang where? Mickey mickey mickey slang, f*ck it, how’re you doing, Dicky?”

 

And Kenny’s up now and puts an arm around his brother’s shoulder, grins with this massive shiner on his eye, and says “You want anything, Derrick?

 

Derrick spits “Are you nuts?”

 

“What?”

 

Not in the bar. Are you nuts?”

 

“Everyone knows, Derrick, come on.”

 

“We do it in the alley, we don’t do it in the bar.”

 

I got it in my trunk,” Merrick’s saying, but Derrick puts a hand up.

 

“No,” Derrick says. “Don’t, uh, we don’t dishonor the bar, you know?”

 

What the f*ck are you talking about?” Kenny goes.

 

“It’s my pa’s place, it’s Allie’s place, it’s f*cky.

 

We don’t dishonor- what da’ f*ck that even mean? Everyone’s uh, what? What?”

 

Derrick sighs, mutters something akin to “Shut up.

 

Which gets a hand up from Merrick, a settle down hand, “It’s alright, it’s alright. It’s like tracking dirt, Kenny, yeah? It’s like trackin’ mud in the house, he don’t want that.”

 

Kenny mutters “Then say that.

 

“You want any, you know where to find us, huh?”

 

Derrick’s trying to shoo them off, “Yeah, yeah--

 

“Good price, too, we got this off--”

 

Firmer, “Okay, Mickey.

 

“That’s us, right? Mick and Dick, Dicky and Mickey, they always used to say- that’s what they used ta’- remember when, uh, down uh--”

 

Aiden’s abandoned you. He’s off with barman Allie chatting sh*t in argot somewhere between Dublin and Dukes too imperceptible to join. No lifesaver - you’ve got the Keirs chewing your ear off--

 

“Hey!

 

Booth.

 

Who else?

 

Stern voice, strict voice, commanding voice beckons you over to the windowside. He’s got buddies, two men in the booth by the window behind a lone table and the bathrooms. Neon Blarney’s sign turned off sitting stupid.

 

Three men. Handsome-looking guy with hair well-coiffed enough to look both messy and made. Guy with slicked-back rat black hair and skullface cheekbones. Younger fella with his hair utterly receded. All with drinks, only one untouched being skullface’s. Was Skullface calling you.

 

Derrick nods, Keirs part to let you by. Skullface is Craig Tolmie. Chief lieutenant. And he’s with Puppy Paisley, and he’s with Kit Spoils.

 

Z5bOOhGE7YrHs-uAyarnX2w-C-DMoGir_j3LPpBSV066aVcFc5TrFrkVC1waLOuflptCnnzrxnFjp9tJvXk2qBS6zy98oAZp10gCLsxKyJXnK4JXr2y5aCyThkeO7eagPzYeMdTM

 

Tolmie repeats: “Hey.

 

Derrick says “Morning.”

 

Repeats “Morning. Ha. Sit the f*ck down.”

 

“Why?”

 

Repeats, “Sit the f*ck down.

 

Derrick repeats “Why?

 

You’re just being disrespectful now, huh?” That’s Kit Spoils. “Just being f*cking disrespectful now.”

 

Second or so of Derrick standing there squint-eyed like he hardly believes what he said. Scoffs. “Okay, sure. I’ll sit.”

 

“You know why we want to talk.”

 

Derrick opts for a stool instead of a booth seat. Pulls out an odd colored blue one from the row of brown-blacks with this half-smirk on his face before taking his place: crossing his arms, foot up, still looking.

 

Whole process ends on another few seconds of silence.

 

Puppy laughs.

 

“You are such a prissy f*ck,” Kit goes. It’s meant like a joke but Kit ain’t a funny guy. Can’t help but bleed disdain whenever he’s looking, too much a thug for the polite-schtick to ever ring true.

 

Straight to business: “How’d it go?” That’s Tolmie.

 

“Fine,” Derrick says. “I don’t know how Kit’s end went--”

 

Puppy blurts out “Swimmingly, Dicky, like a--”

 

“We got what we needed,” Kit says strict. Looks at Puppy a hot minute real angry, turns back, “We woulda’ called if we knew they was takin’ sh*t gonna stick youse. Maybe they was, I don’t know, but there weren’t no guns taken from where they was keeping it.”

 

“They followed the rules,” Derrick says. “I know that much. Nothing on them, came unarmed.”

 

“They thought it was legit.”

 

That they did.

 

“Arming for a f*cking war,” Puppy says, “we found AKs and sh*t. Kicked that fat prick’s f*cking dog, took--”

 

“Dog?” Derrick goes.

 

“Yeah,” Puppy says.

 

“Thing was barking, had to get rid of it.” Kit sniffs, “Nothin’ could be done.

 

“The dog is dead?”

 

Gets a shrug back. “Gats was found in the shed, had this whole thing covered up with tools- f*ckin’ whatsits, whole thing. Four Defenders, four AKs, couple Chitarras, all sh*t condition but the f*ck you gonna do? They weren’t cleaning them. Got ‘em to Mundy, all peachy.”

 

Good on you,” Derrick goes. “A+, huh? I’ll go write a letter of commendation, we can get pa to put that on youse fridge for a good boy’s job well done.”

 

I’ll break your f*ckin’ dick off, I oughta’--

 

Derrick,” Tolmie utters. “You took care of the wops.”

 

Derrick nods.

 

And?

 

“And you want the blow-by-blow, Craig?”

 

“Yes.”

 

They weren’t armed.” Derrick rubs at the corner of his mouth, “Everyone had their in. Was that Cazzini kid came down, me and Buck, and then this fourth guy I never met must’ve been with Reggie’s guys.”

 

Tolmie says “Boonstra?”

 

“No, no, not Jilly. He was Polack.”

 

Squints. “I don’t know no Polacks working with Reggie. What was his name?

 

“Marius.”

 

I don’t know who the f*ck that is. I’ll ask, uh, John Jack I guess.”

 

“We cut the three of them up in the basement. We told the guy Harvey the method but he just went straight to getting the hacksaws getting them bleeded all over the floor.”

 

“And Pete Rea?”

 

“We got the van over there to their spot in East Liberty, yeah. They got the holes dug but they did a sh*t f*cking job, was like three feet deep. If we kept the guys whole they woulda’ been too f*ckin’ fat to fit, probably.”

 

“All three?”

 

“They’re Italians, aren’t they?”

 

Yeah, yeah.

 

“Was Tony there?” Kit asks.

 

“Which Tony?”

 

The c*nt, Dicky.

 

“Oh, yeah. They was asking about you, actually.”

 

Like his eyes light up, “Yeah?

 

“Yeah. Wanted some sick f*ck could neuter some dogs but I told ‘em you’d just talk to them, suck their cocks instead - the skitzo medication or something.”

 

“I swear--”

 

“Or would you just skip to the vivisection, huh?”

 

“You gotta settle the f*ck down, Dick,” Tolmie’s glaring at you with those hawk eyes of his. Killer’s eyes, stone cold nothing eyes.

 

Kit goes “What the f*ck is a vivisection?

 

Door opens.

 

Kit cranes his head.

 

Kit goes “Oh, sh*t!

 

Derrick looks.

 

It’s John Jack McReary.

 

Peak lapels, stressed out double-breasted sheepskin coat with the Redwood pack crinkled-out stuffed deep in the pocket. Blue-beige checkered newsboy cap he takes off, hands to his driver Griff the Berk - skinny goon with a big mustache holding an umbrella in the other hand - takes the coat off showing an ill fitting blue suit, argyle socks peeking, slip on brown loafers.

 

Ruddy red acne-scarred skin and blood vessels showing on the hands. Hair gelled back down past the neck, this gruff bark he gives telling Griff “Don’t get da’ f*ckin’ jacket f*cked or I’ll f*ckin’ cut youse some, okay? Okay?”

 

Griff squeaks “Okay, sir, okay.

 

And Kit goes “John Jack! Haha, hey!”

 

mltzeFt5vD1QaZLN8Qj-CaPrLSgu2o4trCmF9I4p4U9Nc_6IaVTx8wAwX00yKGL2QgM2Wm9koJcvuv75GgVj8wO8GSCQrAcmr_R_fIxmb1Dv64AJmxpVrVE7g9LS5tpKseLm1AE3

 

John Jack points with two fingers - index and middle - says “Son my son,” walks on over and grabs Derrick by the shoulder while he’s got his back turned, while Derrick is staring off with this blank nothing in his eyes.

 

How are ya’, huh?” Kit says.

 

“It’s a parking lot out on Dukes Boulevard.”

 

I heard that on WSOS, actually--” Puppy is saying.

 

Kit goes “Nobody’s talking to you.” Turns back to John Jack, “Sounds like a f*cking sh*t.”

 

Nods. Grabs Derrick by the shoulder tighter, “I gotta talk to my boy.”

 

“You sure?”

 

“I already talked to you about the thing, huh? I got to talk.” Looks down to Derrick, “You up for it?

 

Derrick’s just looking off. “Sure.”

 

Cut.

 

Booth seat - no stool. Father and son mirror each other while Kit does the occasional lean-over from the other one; no point to it since Derrick’s in the seat facing his way. Griff getting picked on by the Keir brothers and Aiden still conversing with Allie.

 

No words between father and son.

 

Derrick dusts off his jeans, goes to say something--

 

“You still hanging with them n*ggers in Holland?”

 

He glares. Derrick says “What do you care?”

 

“I care because they talk about it, I care. You wanna play this f*ckin’ game.”

 

Derrick blinks, but he doesn’t budge.

 

“They laugh at you. And you bring sing-song in,” referring to Aiden, “and he does what he does with that cooze. You brought the other guy along like I told you? The pinko, Sligo.”

 

Yeah.

 

“Kit told me with Mundy and Mundy told me with Memo. Was pleased. They had explosives, those f*cks.”

 

“Who? The capos?”

 

“They did. Explosives, this big f*ckin’ MG, million rounds for it. Was gonna hit Memo’s house and spray the front of the thing, bomb it, f*ckin’ wreck it like f*ckin’ Nazis or f*ckin’ English or some sh*t like that.”

 

Thought it was a couple of automatics.

 

“People tell you what you needs to know. And you needs to know what I told you. Others think that ain’t your forty.” Means forté.

 

“You send me out to be the dog, I oughta’ know what I’m getting.”

 

Need to know.” John Jack grabs the Redwoods pack and pulls a cigarette by the middle, pinches it harder than hard - couldn’t hold something delicate if he tried. “They’re still looking for Mart Dio’s kid. You know him?”

 

“No.”

 

“Crazy Pans.”

 

What?

 

“That’s his name. Crazy Pans.”

 

xi52DO6fp3eMKICA3ePzDhBPiogbcxZR24iF25_NebiwyF73UN4bZ8xVuZqy7LuV2vngiMC_Z8kWRzfwnVVaLmXq3XCiGZf9tZzBOTFdait_nlPwEjwYniJq-5kDQY7rXCZ76duQ

 

Squints. “Okay.”

 

“The heir’s gone and lammed the sh*t. He was gonna be underboss, now he’s nothin’. Or maybe he is since Mart Dio got their peoples and some important friends, some sh*t like that. Directive from up high is bygones are bygones but we gotta keep lookin’ for the kid before he does some Victor-Charlie sh*t. Cut his f*cking head off.”

 

“Up high is who?”

 

“Up high is Jon, and up high is Memo. We need f*cking stability. That’s the end-all. Crazy Pans still alive means the coup’s still alive and that ain’t nothin’ stable. Think he’ll get his boys on a counter-attack even though we was Commission-sanctioned. So, you’re doin’ the next piece of the work.”

 

Derrick says “How much?”

 

How much?

 

“I do more errand boy sh*t you send me a paycheck.”

 

Blinks. “Excuse me?

 

Takes that as a denial, “Okay, send Kit then.”

 

Send Kit- send--” stutters on that, “No. You’re doin’ this. You f*ckin’ kidding me, you--”

 

“I’m not doing more f*cking wop laundry.”

 

“Kit goes and they’ll know. Kid don’t exactly--”

 

“Kid don’t what? Kid goes f*cking ape sh*t, he kills a dog? He tell you that? That he killed some f*cking dog?”

 

John Jack says “So?”

 

Derrick is staring.

 

If you’re trying to say he’s a loose cannon, that ain’t it.”

 

“Then f*ck off.” Derrick goes to stand--

 

John Jack grabs him by the arm and smacks him across the face.

 

Derrick stares.

 

He pulls the cigarette out his mouth, half smoked, and pinches the thing so hard it nearly breaks in two. Flicks it to the table with the free hand and lets Derrick go, grabs another stick from the box, “What’s the matter with you?”

 

Derrick stares.

 

Attitude. You got an attitude, you got no respect, you wonder why nobody takes you seriously.” Gets out his lighter, “You act a retard you’re gonna get- you f*ckin’... I swear to god, you run me up the f*ckin’ tree.”

 

Derrick stares.

 

“Sit down. C’mon, sit down.”

 

Derrick stares.

 

John Jack is trying to play it smoother now, “Sit down, c’mon with you. You know I do this- you know I do this ‘cause I know. Sit down.”

 

Derrick stares. Derrick sits.

 

“You don’t talk to your father like that.”

 

“Okay,” Derrick says.

 

“That’s not right. And you know that.”

 

Derrick stares.

 

“‘Cause in the real world, in the real world, when there’s an authority, you gotta respect it. You wanna do something in the world, you gotta respect the authority. That’s why you do this.”

 

Just tell me what to do.

 

“You’re not listening, Derrick.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“You’re not listening, Derrick. Listen to me. You gotta put your footprint on the f*ckin’ dirt. You treat your old man with respect. You don’t disrespect. You don’t do respect, you can’t make no footprints, there won’t be no feet to put them in. You listen to me?

 

“I understand.”

 

“You stumble and you fall. I don’t want that. When Memo called, I told him I was picking you. Because you make that mark and it’s something. I coulda’ got Kit but that’s the difference, Kit knows that you gotta respect those you need to respect, and you ain’t. So you need to step the f*ck up. And that’s why I picked you.”

 

Derrick is staring. Ice cold blue eyes. Doesn’t break, says it slowly, “What’s with that capo’s kid? What do I gotta do?”

 

“You wanna know? You wanna know.” John Jack puts out his cigarette. “Okay, listen to me. They want to make sure they break the legs of whoever’s doing their mutiny before they mutiny. Capos was the head, now you go for the body. We took their guns, they know where they bought ‘em from.”

 

“So I’m taking out the gun guy?”

 

“I don’t want Pinko or Sing-Song on this. You take them to the big guys and they’ll laugh. Okay?”

 

“You wanted ‘em along on the job with the three.”

 

Aside from you all the gunmen was bozos. Redhead got f*cking who, some Polack schmuck who prints skin flicks and only comes around every other month nobody knows his f*cking name. I thought Puppy, I went on the commie f*ck. Someone disposable. You made your mark though, huh, you met Pete Rea. Not bad.”

 

Derrick takes the implication on the chin - “Just tell me what I gotta do.

 

“They buy wholesale from an ice cream truck.”

 

“You’re sh*tting me.”

 

He’s from Alderney, and no I f*ckin’ wish. Former GI motherf*cker knows explosives, he cooked up some bombs and he got them some surplus. Mr. Tasty - Kraut Middelkorp. Was in the papers last year ‘cause he put a bomb on his ex wife’s doorstep in Zabriskie. You knock him down a peg.”

 

Derrick says “So I’m going to ‘Derney?”

 

You don’t gotta worry about that.

 

“Good. Wouldn’t be caught f*cking dead in ‘Derney.”

 

“Usually takes the truck of his on the route up and down Hardtack Avenue but got this restraining order or some sh*t or something- been doing routes around Shalimar Park. Stops at this rec center on Dukes Boulevard, Deadline Wall Hall, corner of there and 62nd. Some bookie-cum-stool pigeon. Goes to some of the same people Crazy Pans does for details on what his wife’s done changed the phone number to.”

 

“Corner of Dukes and 62nd.”

 

Corner of there and then. You take whatever you get from the f*ck to The Embers.”

 

Like the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

 

Like the breeze came right through the window, draft colder than cold.

 

The Embers.

 

Derrick gets up. And Derrick gets going.

 

The Keirs start grabbing. Kit cranes his neck. John Jack lights another Redwood.

 

Head to the recreation center.

 

When the cold air hits on the outside past the chairs you get a notice.

 

On missions without Bucky or Aiden accompanying you, always check to see if any contacts open up for assistance. Associates are never far: in this case, you can reach Jimmy Pegorino at a payphone. 

 

You can do that, or you can go lonesome. There’s always the chance to phone a friend and seek assistance - perhaps guidance - on a paying contract or a narrative mission. After all, you want to assure your employer you get that f*cking job done, right? What’s the harm if you get a little help?

 

Of course, you won’t always get a yes from whoever you call. But you have your notepad at the ready with a list of contacts, and you have a payphone on every other corner. You don’t have to, but it almost always affects the outcome of a job and throws an alternate route your way.

 

Dial Jimmy Pegorino.

 

Derrick rubbing his face as the phone bleets, pulls the black handset up to his ear.

 

Ring ring.

 

Ring ring.

 

Yo?That same old squawk through the receiver.

 

“Jimmy. Jimmy, my man.”

 

“Yo! What’s up, goombata, how ya’ doin’?”

 

“You in the city?”

 

“Yeah, bro, yeah. I’m in Lancaster, I got this thing--”

 

How quick can you get over to Shalimar Park? I’ll pay.”

 

“Yeah? What for?”

 

“My pa, on behalf of the guy with the Smoke? You know?”

 

“...Sure.

 

“Well, he wants me to take care a’ somethin’. Think I might need a capable set a’ hands.”

 

“You gettin’ Buck and the guy fa’ this?”

 

No, no. Two-man gig. You in?

 

Short pause. Where I gotta head?

 

“Take off the Triborough and head down Dukes Boulevard and 62nd. Deadline War Hall. You got that?”

 

“Dukes and 62nd, yeah. I’ll be there within the hour, okay bro?”

 

“Cheers, then.”

 

“I gotcha’, bro.”

 

He hangs up.

 

Jimmy always loved a good clipping.

 

Drive.

 

Head to the recreation center.

 

There’s no cutscene at the rec center if you didn’t call Jimmy. You coulda’ called Bucky as a f*ck you to pops, but he’ll just tell you he’s working at the auto body. Derrick makes a mental note regardless.

 

Jimmy’s parked his ‘78 Schyster Libertonian gas guzzler whip out on 62nd near the lot and this boarded up building you can’t discern the prior use of. It’s nothing now. Jimmy’s on the hood: white mesh shirt, mint-and-white cardigan, cream slacks. One hand pressed over his pocket and the other with a cigarette, the kid singing: “My funny valentine… sweet, comic valentine…

 

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Derrick goes “Jimbo.”

 

This hokey “Gha?” noise from Jimmy taken out the moment. Eyes light up, “Dicky! Yo.”

 

“Hey.”

 

“Chet Baker.” Like he’s justifying himself.

 

“What?”

 

It’s Chet Baker, I was singing. Chet Baker, bro.”

 

Derrick doesn’t care that much. “Cool.”

 

What you like, Dicky? You like jazz?”

 

“You can listen to what you want, Jimmy, it’s cool.”

 

“Yeah. But whaddya’ listen to?”

 

“I don’t know. I like, uh… I don’t know. Jean-Michel Jarre. Phillip Glass. You know them?”

 

Jim doesn’t reply but the blank expression says no.

 

“I mean, I don’t know, I like Bob Marley. I like the Stones. I can do a good Mick Jagger impression, you wanna hear that?”

 

“Bob Marley, bro, that’s uh… hippy sh*t, right? Rolling Stones is too faggy for me. Is Bob Marley black?”

 

“Bo- uh- yeah. Yeah, the Wailers, yeah. They’re from Jamaica.”

 

I’m okay with Nat King Cole.

 

Derrick squints. “Sure. He’s good. Not really the same--”

 

So what’s is this, bro, who’s gettin’ whacked?”

 

Derrick steps over. “Keep a cool head on, yeah? Don’t say that sh*t.”

 

I ain’t a retard. We ain’t playin’ f*ckin’ bocce or whatever over here, it’s simple sh*t. You call me, bro, you say yo yo yo, come here bro come here fast, I go ‘okay’. Them kinda urgencies means what it means. Who’s gettin’ whacked? And it was Memo Smokes you said was payin’ on the horn.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Guy’s always good for a skull bust. Who’s the dunsky, who’s the chump?”

 

Puts hands in his jacket pockets. “He drives an ice cream truck, right?”

 

Snort-laugh. “He give some kid the wrong flavor?

 

“No. He sells guns, some sh*t. And he might have something to do with something else.”

 

“They good gats?”

 

You’d know?

 

“I’m a collector.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah, Dicky. I got three f*ckin’ AKs at home. Or I got two AKs, I got one in da’ trunk. I got a piece on me,” pats the bulge in his pocket, “I mean a lotta’ fellas go tossin’ gats they don’t need no more. Or it’s thirty eights and twelve gauges. Never got that.”

 

Pause. “You got an AK in the car?”

 

“You wanna see?”

 

Are you f*cking joking?

 

“Wha’?”

 

Jim, you keep a f*ckin’ automatic on you, some pig sees that sh*t and you get sent to the bacon factory the rest of your life. Don’t be stupid.”

 

So you’re mister ‘thirty eights and twelve gauges’, huh?”

 

“Anyone f*ckin’ smart is. All you can do with a machine gun is fight a f*ckin’ war maybe. All’s you need is a four-inch tops, enough to point that sh*t and kill whatever you want dead. Four inch is too much, even, since youse might need a holster. You bring a machine gun you gotta prep for like a solid minute to get that thing goin’. That ain’t an everyday self defense kinda’ thing.”

 

“So we ain’t fightin’ a war?”

 

This shouldn’t be. We get OK Corral out on the street and everything goes to sh*t. We’re lookin’ for stability.”

 

Messinas is goin’ to the mattresses. You hear about what’s been said, ‘bout these three captains? Gone in a f*ckin’ night. Yeah. That’s our paymaster.”

 

“Yeah,” Derrick says. “I heard.

 

“Some sick sh*t, but hey,” taps his chest two times and does this face supposed to be smart. “Sick world.”

 

“Sick game.”

 

“What’s the f*cking difference? I need the AK?

 

Why don’t ya’ just come the f*ck on, why don’t you. Just follow my movement.”

 

They walk.

 

Door.

 

I3PLAqR.png

 

Door opens past a little secretary with a notebook - stairs to the left, doorway to the right, boxing gym up ahead. Smoke filled archway gives into boxing gym proper with the beat-bags hanging and the patchy laminate floor. Sweat and smoke. The ring is up ahead, two black boys in red-blue trunks slinging fists.

 

Find Mr. Tasty.

 

Jimmy goes “These boxers love ice creams?

 

“I don’t really know.”

 

“So why’s the ice cream man at the boxing place, bro? He like boxing?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“You see him, bro?”

 

“I don’t know, Jimmy.”

 

There’s a lot of smoke. Coach at the ringside is this big fella with a mustache and a denim jacket, thick cigar, barking out whats-its and hows-its all foreign to Derrick’s ears.

 

Occasionally - man in a suit, with bad hair and big spectacles - walks to the coach, talks, pulls out his notepad, writes down, heads back to some plastic stools by the window to keep writing. Repeats. Repeats. Maybe the only fella in there who seems unoccupied, but he’s a hard fish to catch.

 

If you miss your moment, you wait long enough? He’ll get up, and he’ll leave. Head out the door, cross the street, head to his ice cream truck and drive off.

 

That’s one way of finding Mr. Tasty.

 

But you’ve noticed him, now.

 

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Jimmy’s not gonna spot the guy, he’s got spatial perception like a f*cking shrew, but you can point him out. “You see the mope over there?

 

And Jimmy’s eye’ll move to the mope, and then watch the routine. “Yo.

 

“Yeah.”

 

That’s the f*ckin’ bookie, right?

 

“The coach or Mister Hairpiece?”

 

Mister Hairpiece, that’s a good one.” Gives this dumb f*cking chuckle. “But no, yeah. My uncle makes books, huh, I know the point spreaders when I see’s ‘em. Ice creams ain’t taking books but he’s making bets, huh?”

 

Jimmy ain’t clever, but he’s street smart. Without him, any chance of talking to the man with the notepad would fall flat on its face. Approach loud, or approach with words.

 

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Loud means pulling a gat, telling Jimmy “We lock and we f*cking load, okay?” Jimmy says he wishes he brought the rifle. Derrick says “Zip it. I’ll take point.”

 

Jimmy rounds the ring. Hand on the piece in his waistband watching the sides coming right on the coach. Starts talking to him - you can’t hear him over the punch-punch-slap on the punching bags.

 

Boxer in the ring stops.

 

Yo--

 

What the f*ck? That a f*ckin’ gun?”

 

He got a f*cking gun!

 

Unholster. Jimmy pulls the piece and smacks the coach across the face, pushes him to the ground and takes aim at Mr. Tasty. Tasty flips, throws the pad, runs right past while Jimmy can barely fire a shot on him. Kid has sh*t f*cking aim, bullets fly. Unlucky bullet rams right in the coach’s f*cking head.

 

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Whoops. One less bookie in Liberty City.

 

God f*cking damn it, Jimbo!

 

“Oh, minchia!”

 

Chase Mr. Tasty.

 

Guy bolts through one of the doors into the rec-center rec-center with colored flooring and kids drawing with crayons behind one of the windows. Daycare and the gunshots ring out, bullets might hit glass and there’s screaming. Mr. Tasty pulls out a revolver of his own and takes cover behind a wall, fires six shots in succession unless you’re quick enough to take cover.

 

Into a stairwell. They go down.

 

Jimmy! Follow me!

 

Guts of this place are cold brick walls painted over and concrete flooring. Sprinting down the stairs past the boiler, past metal grating, guy popping off more shots and screaming “My f*ckin’ wife, she sent you! She sent you, huh?

 

He’s breaking a sweat.

 

He trips. Wet floor sign standing up on dry floor and the gun rattles spinning under some sh*t he can’t reach, Tasty goes “Oh rats! Oh rats!” Slips on his own sweat and he’s on his back now like a turtle with his arms up.

 

Jimmy’s behind you. “Pop goes the f*cking weasel, get the f*ckin’ dunsky! Get the f*ckin’ bastard!”

 

Derrick spits. No words. Aims.

 

I’ll leave the bitch alone, man, I will! I will!

 

Derrick fires the round in his f*cking head.

 

Gun lowers.

 

Jimmy goes “Ace. Aces.”

 

“We ain’t got the iron he had. What he drop, some f*cking Stud .30 piece of sh*t.”

 

“What? We got him.”

 

You got his notepad?

 

“Notepad?” A moment, “Oh. No, bro, nah, bro. No.”

 

You go loud, you miss the opportunity to get the guns. Unless you want to scour the parking lot for a f*cking ice cream truck.

 

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Derrick’s doesn’t know sh*t about Mr. Tasty and was never much a betting guy. Always terrible with numbers. But with Jimmy, you got a loan shark and a bookie from across the West River. Or, rather, someone who’s done a lot of head-breaking for loan sharks and bookies.

 

Jimmy.

 

“Yeah?”

 

Nods, “He’s the guy.”

 

Grins, “We whackin’ or what?”

 

No. No. Just smooth talk. Follow my lead. You know sports?”

 

Jimmy squints. “Sure.”

 

“I don’t know sh*t about no sports. How’s the football?”

 

Oh, they don’t start until September, Dicky.

 

“College ball or f*ckin’ basketball or some sh*t, what’s happening?”

 

“Sure.”

 

“The Penetrators make it in?”

 

Nah, bro. They got raped.”

 

Yeah, when don’t they. Come on, you know these f*ckin’ guys.”

 

“Know who?”

 

Groans. “Just follow my lead, okay?”

 

Jimmy nods.

 

Derrick leads.

 

Mr. Tasty has his head buried in the notepad.

 

You come here, too?” Derrick plays it smooth, “That’s nuts.”

 

Mr. Tasty looks up. “Huh?

 

Jimmy goes “These playoffs, bro. I put eight on Alderney and got f*ckin’ pounded. Eight on both games and then DC f*cks me. Hometown pride.

 

“I’m from Alderney,” Tasty goes. “Serves me right.”

 

No sh*t?

 

Derrick says “I heard that. Kraut, right?

 

“Yeah.” Smiles, extends a hand, “Hey. I know you?”

 

“No,” Derrick says. “Heard good things, though. Heard you’re a real welch.” Frowns, then breaks into a grin - “Nah, just kiddin’ ya, I heard good things. I’m Ricky Derrida, this my buddy Jimmy B.”

 

Shakes Jimmy’s hand, “B?

 

Derrick says “Bordiga. Nah, he’s from AC. Just talking to this guy about the season though. Penetrators. I put it all on them. I mean, I bet where my heart goes, I bet with the city. But this town got no sports for sh*t.”

 

Ha. I heard that. Got wiped out by DC so seeing this Seattle-Defiance game through. Could go either way.”

 

“I know somebody,” Jimmy goes, “he’s put a whole ten on Texas. Bro, I sh*t you not. I told him, bro, get the f*ck outta here, you ain’t gonna cover the nut, but he said f*ck it. Now me, I’d never place a bet like that without some sureties, you know. Sureties. Yeah.”

 

“Yeah- well, like I said, could go either way. Trust me, I had some kinda line on the swingmen one way or another, I’d be putting something solid down myself. Talk to my friend Wardy right here. But it’s gotta be a sure thing or, you know,” chuckles, “sure as you can get. You put something down on the f*ckin’ Panic this season, you learned that lesson.”

 

“Nah, nothin’ like that, bro, I saw that upset comin’ a mile away, you don’t f*ck with coaches mid-season.”

 

Looks at his notebook, the boys trading punches and back. “You’re right about that.”

 

A pause. “So you got money troubles or some sh*t, bro?”

 

Dicky glares. Tasty shrugs, eyes back to the ring. “Who don’t.”

 

Derrick tries to redirect, folds arms and asks “What’s the spread? For Seattle-Defiance, I mean.”

 

“This far out we’re still talkin’ PK. And no offense, fellas, but I don’t exactly go yappin’ ringside about the inside track, you know what I mean? Not usually.”

 

“I feel you.” Derrick pauses. Looks to Jimmy for assurance - ice broken. “Say, pal, I said I heard things,” he leans in closer, “I wasn’t talking numbers, you get my drift.”

 

Eyes widen. “Oh yeah?”

 

“Me and Jimmy here, we was looking to score a couple heaters. Nothing heavy, just a score to settle down the shore. Heard from a friend of a friend you were the man for the task.”

 

Tasty closes his book now. “You know what they say ‘bout loose lips,” he goes, then breaks into this obnoxious f*cking laughter. “Sometimes they’re good for f*ckin’ business.”

 

Derrick fake-laughs. Jimmy gets the cue three seconds too late, f*cking prick.

 

“Alright, alright, alright.” He quiets. “I might got something out in my van. Depends what you’re in the market for, exactly. You said nothing heavy?”

 

“Nah. Deterrent factor type-’a deal, y’know?”

 

“Sure. Sure.” Looks up at Jimmy, “you too?”

 

Doesn’t seem quite sure what it means. “Yeah, bro.”

 

Okay.

 

Tasty does this 180-degree crane of the neck, pockets his little book and looks over to the coach - does a T with his sweaty little hands.

 

“Weeelll,” stands straight. “The real action’s a ways off, anyways. This f*ckin’ place. C’mon.”

 

C’mon’s your cue - back in control as he heads up and out the room, under the arch and into the fluorescence and vinyl hallway. You’re not required to wait, important note: you can pop him here, or before the doors, or on the f*cking pavers right out beyond. But you’re doing this smart, right? So let the ruse pay its way - Jimmy’s building confidence, anyway.

 

“War of the Deadline Hall,” Tasty parrots off the signage when you hit daylight. “Lotsa sawbuck-on-a-cock-crossin’-the-road types all up in my business here, you know what I mean?”

 

Not really. “Sure.”

 

“The f*ckin’ smell ‘a the place, the sh*t that gets in your, eh, your pores. Whatever. You fellas said you’re from AC?”

 

Jimmy starts mumbling but Derrick catches it. “No, just him. Me, I’m a Dukes boy born and bred.”

 

“A name like- what, you said, Derrida? Don’t mean nothin’ by it, but I didn’t take you for the olive oil type. You’re paler than me, y’know.”

 

Dicky turns his head for Jimmy - bulldog-mad. The olive oil type.

 

“Actually, it’s Moroccan. But I’m just some mutt. I don’t think about it.”

 

He pauses a moment before saying “Good for you” and for a second that stops the conversation dead.

 

Kraut’s looping around the side of the building past iron-bound windows and graffiti over graffiti - not headed to the same lot Jimmy left his car in on 62nd but, you realize, a parking garage across on 93rd. 

 

“Not too much farther,” he goes. “Not too much farther. He tell you I got ice cream, your friend?”

 

Derrick says “Sure did. Get a free cone if we put down three digits on firepower?”

 

Gets a guffaw from Jimmy lagging behind. “You do one scoop or two?”

 

Almost seems insulted by the question. “Two. C’mon. Ain’t gonna make some poor schmoe wait on line ten-- sometimes fifteen minutes for one f*ckin’ scoop, not here or Broker or nowhere. And I got good ice creams too. Not just the franchise stuff - my own syrups. Quantity and quality.”

 

Jimmy approves. “That’s good sh*t, bro.”

 

There’s no parking attendant - van’s parked nose-out up by a middle column, a Zirconium to one side and nothing on the other. The Mr Tasty van. You’ve probably seen a dozen of them around town by now: identical, blue-bordered, the Pavlovian response to the jingle - this one needs a wash.

 

He tells you to watch your step as he unlocks the back doors. Jimmy waits for the nod, some last second reassurance. 

 

Dicky gives it.

 

They step inside; there’s just barely head clearance for one man, let alone three packed like sardines between soft serve machines and storage drawers - utensils, spoons, cone stacks. He’s legit.

 

“Alrighty-roo,” Tasty rubs hands together, “you said something light, light, light. I got light- I got whatever tickles your fancy." He starts popping open drawers, overhead compartments - hot metal glints off the overhead bulb: barrels, grips, f*cking muzzles. “.38, .22, I got- I got pistols’ll pop ya’ mark’s head like a melon, I got others that’ll keep that lead whizzin’ around in his brain. Or maybe you wanna get up in his face: that case, I got Ka-Bars by the f*ckin’ dozen. Slice ‘em up real good.”

 

Jimmy goes “Ho-lee f*ck.”

 

Tasty keeps on with the pitch, Derrick watching: “It’s contraband, see? Mostly ‘Nam, some from Korea. I got these real punchy motherf*ckers for a .22, this Kreuger the IAA was handin’ out like suckers during Masher and ‘fore Saigon.”

 

Derrick can’t lie. “I ain’t seen this kinda firepower in f*ckin’ yonks.”

 

“Firepower?” Tasty goes, makes this sound like he’s about to hock a loogie. He pushes Jimmy aside, unlatches a freezer running under the right side. “How ‘bout this?”

 

It’s a f*cking mortar.

 

It’s like ten f*cking mortars stacked flat in the freezer.

 

Tasty’s got it in his hands. “Five-thousand yard range, thirty rounds a minute, twenty pounds apiece.” He lugs it into Derrick’s arms. “You got this glint in your eye.”

 

Derrick puts it right back, chuckles. “You’re one crazy son of a bitch.”

 

Doesn’t phase him. “I got a court date tomorrow,” he says. “Bring one of these f*ckers to the courthouse, show that cold c*nt gospel truth, y’know what I mean?”

 

You’ve had your fun - but it’s time. 

 

Eliminate Mr. Tasty.

 

Derrick says “Not really.” 

 

You’ve got a snubnose tucked into the waistband. 

 

There’s no advantage to dawdling: Jimmy catches Tasty’s attention by the .22s tucked in the cabinets over the soft serve and for a moment he turns his back. You’re in gameplay - have been this entire time - and it’s your chance to sneak, unholster, get a grip on the .38.

 

Tasty’s yapping: “Y’know, a few weeks back I had these I-talians come by, these crazy cowboy sons of bitches wanted heavy f*cking ordnance, lemme tell ya’--”

 

As if you needed any more reason.

 

Jimmy sees you make your move and sticks fingers in his ears as you fire hot lead point-blank into the back of Kraut Middlekorp’s neck - he topples forward, slams face-first onto the narrow slab of countertop by the window and paints it red on his way down.

 

Derrick goes “f*ck!”

 

Had you waited, Jimmy would’ve taken initiative himself and f*cking bungled it - a struggle for the gun taking half the truck’s equipment down with them in a tumble on the floor, Derrick forced to find a clear line of fire between the two big motherf*ckers and pop him clean-like.

 

As it stands, though, he’s done. But you know how to finish it properly.

 

Aim down the sights - two more pow-pows as you send a couple more slugs into the back of his head, hear them sink into the skull and spatter.

 

Jimmy pulls out a Chitarra, makes it an even count - camera distances cinematic-like so you just see the shots lighting up the dim parking garage through the truck window.

 

“Minchia.”

 

He’s got a proper holster, tucks the gun away. 

 

“What now, Dicky?”

 

Bring the weapons to Bucky or The Embers.

 

“Now we take this goddamn stockpile where it goes. sh*t. Go get your car, will ya’?”

 

Immediately does as he’s told, the obedient f*cking goon.

 

PD6Sb3rveHSSAy-SF2AZM5-AKzrUHOzcd2YY74FIOry5iu_DgzN81CHW7B4KKuyVJFt2TvMAb3nB8COONn_Ut2IWdEpeg4egfWC4kaNtfUYSHoaDGgWHOnJhLcFzKyyWDEYBgzJS

 

“And you was giving me sh*t about having an AK in here?” 

 

Dicky’s not in the mood. “Yeah, I was.”

 

Bucky’s garage is the shorter drive. West in East Island City - Concord and 46th, this double-width red brick joint with a line of Chariot fleet vehicles parked on the sidewalk. Pull up backward into the adjacent alley. Jimmy’s staring at you.

 

Derrick tells him to stay put - he won’t be long.

 

“Fine by me, bro.” 

 

Puts his feet up on his own dash.

 

Sure.

 

Round the corner and through the pair of open garage doors: inside, it’s just about what you’d expect. A couple cars on lifts, guy with a welding mask kneeled and flaming up the bumper of a late-model Remington. Smoke: eyes dart and scan faces throughout - all unfamiliar. Another guy by a workbench with the greasy guinea hair strewn over his forehead and sucking on the last centimeter of an unfiltered cigarette: that’s Cigs Sciglimpaglia. He’s knelt looking up at a sour-faced fella by the name of Grover Brown; same name on the LC licensing deed by the entrance. There besides, Bucky’s chatting with a third in the doorway to the office. Great hair.

 

One of those olive oil types. Derney Donnie.

 

FsP64JLrHAqikc3NoCH2fnrprJLYK0UGwdgo9fx3rdSwLNzAuHD-hcDHW_Zjtx-dQYHtQdrkm4BZZ88ZMF3VS8uir8g6sXQKlkLtMjiesJ915bjZ0W0Qvq5ACoffpzb_4R5VCQ0e

 

Derrick waits, nobody asks him his business. Eventually catches Bucky’s attention with the side-eye - he has a laugh with Diotalevi who then turns tail back into the office.

 

Buck’s in grey coveralls, grease-spackled. Working proper, still meets you with a handshake and pat on the shoulder, grinning. “Dicky, man, you lost?”

 

“Visiting,” he goes. “Came for an eyeful of the company you been keeping when you ain’t bunking off. You like it, Buck?”

 

“What?”

 

“Working on them cars. Getting your hands dirty. Motors was never my bag. Some kinda’ break from the violence and the politics, I reckon.”

 

“Not in the f*ckin’ least.” Buck takes him aside so they face out the open garage. “Yuz’ know better than to get naive on me now. It’s all politics, everything politics. I don’t even got my f*ckin’ license, Dicky. This look legit to you?”

 

“I been here all of five minutes, me.”

 

“It's got a genealogy, always.” Quieter now, “always. This here’s a West Side operation. You saw Donnie?

 

“Greaseball?”

 

“Yeah. He’s the Pavano point man - he kicks up, tastes get tasted from the chops we take in mostly from Bohan, cars they work off the Puerto Rican kids without so much as a kickback. Real scumbag sh*t. And I'm detailing f*ckin’ what- private luxury car f*ckin’ fleets for bougie chumps’ll scratch their paint through the East Borough toll booth just the same. Somewhere along the way, Valvona gets his balls tickled, an envelope. City's symbiotic A to Z.”

 

“Yeah, real pedigree of it with these types,” Derrick goes. “That’s the score, I guess.”

 

He gives you a look-down. “Score and a half. We had this same talk last night and yuz’ lookin' spooked all over again.”

 

“Yeah,” he yawns, “maybe. Pa already had me tie up some loose ends for you-know-who. Fine and f*cking dandy, I am.”

 

He's not fazed. “Who?”

 

“This slob drove an ice cream truck. Gun dealer. Sold to the wrong Italians, I guess - had to track him down on Dukes Boulevard.”

 

Laughs, “What, for the gang that couldn’t shoot straight?

 

“I gotta go down to Broker later. Stoothoff Avenue. And Memo Smokes is fronting the bill again.”

 

Bucky lets that sink in. Nods, nods faster, eyes don’t blink. “Was he a dago?”

 

“No. I don’t know. Gambler guy. But we gave some fake names, he walked us down to his truck, Jimmy--”

 

Jimmy who? Pegorino?

 

“Yeah.”

 

“What the f*ck he worth?”

 

“He’s outside, Bucky. You was busy, Aiden was bu--”

 

What do you mean fake names?” Bucky is smirking now. That tension gone, “Don’t f*ckin’ tell me.

 

“Bordiga and Derrida, yeah. C’mon, let me have it.”

 

Face in his palms. “You are the corniest motherf*cker alive.

 

“This isn’t funny, Buck.”

 

I mean,” chuckles, “No. You sure ain’t. But--”

 

“No, I mean, f*ck. I’m kinda freakin’ the f*ck out here, Bucky, I’m kinda’ losing it.”

 

Bucky finds a seat. Steel chair, wipes off his hands, “The way I see it, Dicky. More made f*ckin’ guys on the street than congressmen. Some buttons get sewn, it happens. It weren’t you, it’d be Jimmy, or some other stupid f*ck.”

 

“I don’t want it to be f*cking me. Yeah? I don’t want to take a f*ckin’ buck and a half off Memo f*ckin’ Smokes, Bucky.

 

Agrees, “He ain’t nice.

 

Nice? Man, f*ck nice. He’s bad juju. You heard what he does.” Points at his chest, “And there’s only so much I can do with that man before it rubs off on me, I’m f*ckin’ rotten as him.”

 

“It’s just Italian sh*t.”

 

Back in the forties, Bucky, I know this sh*t. He did a hit for Mussolini personally. And that sh*t got passed down from Don Pavano and f*ckin’ ‘Joe the Mess’ Messina because all these Italians is fascists. Fascist sympathizers, I don’t know. Socialist labor organizer gets hit. I’m getting paid by the hitter. He f*ckin’ killed him himself.

 

Bucky nods, “I know.

 

“Kit Spoils killed some poor f*ckin’ dog. Poor dog, didn’t do nothin’. And my dad, he’s already f*ckin’ evil. I don’t want no more evil f*ckin’ racist pieces of sh*t gettin’ no more bucks than they need. I got guns in my car.

 

Blinks.

 

Blinks.

 

What?

 

“I got a bunch of Orsons, I got some Swedish Ks, a f*cking mortar. I robbed them off the gun guy. I’m giving them to you. Okay?”

 

You brought them here?

 

“Please. Listen to me. What was the name of that woman you said you knew? The communist, she’s doing time.”

 

“Qistina.”

 

“She’s got people outside in Holland, you said. You give these to them. And they do whatever, they sell them, they do whatever, but you give them to them.

 

Stands, “And Memo’ll be fine with that?”

 

Memo don’t know about the firepower. He just wanted the guy deaded and any goodies. I just say there ain’t no goodies. You just gotta get these to her people. Please.”

 

Bucky looks deep into your eyes.

 

And a smile cracks.

 

It’d be a f*ckin’ honor, Derrick.

 

He comes in for a hug.

 

“Already sold enough of my soul,” Derrick says. “Already done it.”

 

VwOQNMblAURdW97Unpxaq9GBqCCIaHzys2xX6TFS-dCHWW2eDiwsTaLdE2v9UNdsItv7jI0X0o2ww186D3z2wDCN9GUuc8Juc7JJQcg2w3i7SepC6D1-apztgeKeK_4n5tGq714j

 

Corner of Stoothoff Avenue and Sinon. This junction of a bunch of streets mashing together: East 41st, Avenue L. The Libertonian idles on the other side of the road. Driver looks on at the painted white brickwork and the angled roof. Black beauty Colonial Conquest outside, and you know the driver of that thing.

 

Two guys playing morra outside.

 

oKKcVbONK50AdA6r4_rS2z6qH4Qrin1ToXFe6iZYOUpZzv9NNkj3skFkREgFwUscWpyt3IxsSbOr0Uby3_3U0iYAcTB5lShwF-A6iUtFTl9Gb2KxQ_5FfA-QjVefsfyjj9YjwLqS

 

Jimmy’s staring away from it.

 

You sure you don’t want to come along?

 

“Nah, bro. Nah, it’s fine, I wanna have a smoke. Heh heh.”

 

“You sure?”

 

He hardens, “No, I wanna have a smoke in the car. It’s fine.”

 

No need to f*ck with him any more.

 

I’ll be a few,” Derrick says.

 

Leave.

 

Cross the street.

 

The Embers Club is hell on Earth. It is the burial ground for a hundred men, at least. Blood flows in the basement drain and bones bake in the walls.

 

Cinque!

 

Quattro!”

 

“Sette!”

 

“Otto!”

 

You know one of the two men, recognize both. Both’re in sleeveless undershirts, guy you know is younger and way better built. Tan skin and fat rings on three of five fingers, shellacked black hair. Other guy is way older, underbite and lemon lips, thin septuagenarian type.

 

The guy you know is named Neil - Nelly. The other one is Carmen the Gardener.

 

a4R5kE0ie4C_HMOhroZKpYawjgip9TPaTtOpsTBSdyLOJ0e8h94C2ShgHj-BF1zCf_O7pIUJn2hX7p2V4a08GNHj7hELXz1xAPbizZO5RaX5TWc6fEwvySghMDduKmu6ongMEcHI

 

Nelly looks over from his game. “Oh! Piccolo principe’, whaddaya’ know?”

 

Derrick rubs hands, “How’s it?”

 

How’s the old man? The mick f*ck?” Extends a hand, “You know I don’t mean no insult.”

 

Shakes it. “Was backed up on Dukes Boulevard all pissed off, but when ain’t he?”

 

“When ain’t he, haha. When-ain’t-he-when-ain’t-he-- send him my love. You come in a quartet?” Points with his index and his pinky at the Libertonian.

 

Derrick says “Jimmy Pegorino. He’s keeping the car warm.”

 

“Hoho. Ha, he ain’t c*nt lickin’ in Alderney, okay. Good to see you, kid, but hey, me and jubs over here ain’t gotta let nobody in for--”

 

Well, yeah,” Derrick says. “I know why you can’t. And I know I gotta go in. Pops sent me.”

 

Oh. I see. C’mon, then.”

 

Door opens.

 

The Embers is lit real bad.

 

People used to tell me I looked like Cheese,” Nelly’s going. “John Cheese, Jimmy’s pa, but I never saw it none. Cheese is all squirrely. And I gotta whole different- I mean the hair, too. But whatever.”

 

Four guys in the main room. You’re familiar with all of them. You know Nelly because he was the liaison: the guy who met your father originally and introduced the Embers Crew to him. These guys are the crew. Mort, Jilly, Timo and Muffy. Three-man card game by the table. One guy polishing glasses at the bar.

 

Guy at the bar looks at you. He grins.

 

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Muffy sniffles something like “Who’s this?” before realizing and turning his head back to the game.

 

Nobody says nothing.

 

Nelly leads you past them. Past the bathroom, down to the stairs. And he’s still going: “--kicked the sh*t out this one wop named Challah, that’s his nickname, and he’s with the guy Cleet the Neck. You know Cleet, Hairy Al’s brother? So Cleet and Benny Jiff is all pissed, want his balls. Wanna put out a motion on this spaccone. I’d agree- ah f*ck it, hold on.”

 

He stops at the basement door.

 

Derrick says “What?”

 

So you know who this is, right?” Asks it dead seriously.

 

“I’m figuring I know ‘em both.”

 

Nelly nods. Nelly opens the door.

 

You enter. He doesn’t follow.

 

In the corner there are a dozen Redwood cartons piled up. Floor’s half wet.

 

Nothing exciting. No chained up guys, no torture. Just three men, folding chairs, a radiator.

 

Reggie ‘the Redhead’ Dello Russo, Gambetti executioner. Simone ‘Memo Smokes’ Trungale, boss of the Messina family. Third man is standing, lanky guy with dark eyes.

 

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You stare.

 

Reggie’s smiling. Looks over to Memo, the old man stone-faced, pipe in his mouth. Staring at you. Maybe glaring, like that’s all those eyes are capable of doing. Reggie’s looking at him giddy, and Memo ain’t looking back.

 

Memo goes “Well?

 

Derrick blinks.

 

Dis dull eyed mudda’f*cker. Well? You f*ckin’ okay?”

 

“I’m sorry,” Derrick says.

 

“What you f*ckin’ want? They ain’t got no f*ckin’ cigarettes in da f*ckin’ machine?

 

Reggie goes “It’s Derrick.

 

“Derrick who? Derrick-what-da-f*ck-is-a-f*ckin’-Derrick? We’re f*ckin’ tawkin’ here, this ain’t f*ckin’ no sh*t for youse to f*ckin’- who da f*ck is Derrick?

 

“He’s Jack McReary’s son, from Purgatory, the Irish.”

 

Water off a duck’s back, “Good? You f*ckin’ want something?”

 

Memooo.” All cute, “He got sent for. What’s wrong with you?

 

“Nothing’s f*ckin’ wrong with me.”

 

Memo Smokes is wearing a hooded sweatshirt over pinstripes. Short-brim fedora on the table that he grabs with his left hand before standing up. Derrick goes “I apologize for however I’m gonna be perceived--

 

“If you keep silent, you dumb little mudda’f*cka, you keep silent with love. You speak, you speak with love.” He blinks. “You’re with the micks in Dukes?”

 

Derrick says “Yes.” Looks over at Reggie trying to hold back a smile.

 

“And you got sent for?”

 

“Was told I’m doing work for you.”

 

So you’re my dog. Right?” Doesn’t blink. “You bark for me. You bay for me. You do whatever the f*ck I say or else I hit youse with a big f*cking stick. Is what we’re working with, ain’t it?”

 

“Sure,” Derrick says. “I did that thing for you yesterday, sir.”

 

Sir. Haha! Sir. Okay, sir, okay. What, them three?”

 

“Them three.”

 

Does this little put-put-put out his pipe. “You must’ve known Freddy Rigs. The little wormy mudda’f*ck, right? I know his deli was down in Steinway on Yorktown. Cuts like drywall.”

 

“We mingling?”

 

You getting cute with me, Derrick?

 

Keeps eye contact. “Sure, I knew Freddy. He didn’t know nothin’ was me, it was all masks.”

 

“My pup. Noto, he told me it all went swimming. Beach f*ckin’ swimming.”

 

“We took care of it,” Derrick says.

 

Nodding. “You cut that Freddy and them up like roasts, right? Taste his own f*ckin’ medicine, butcher mudda’f*ck. Heard you micks cut cunts up like roasts. Only as good as Reggie.”

 

Derrick says nothing.

 

“You got a gift for me?” Memo gets closer. “Told your pa to do a favor for me.

 

“I took care of it,” Derrick says. “I took care of him.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

If you didn’t bring the guns to Bucky, Derrick’s got nothing else. Just says “He ain’t gonna be selling no more ice creams, that’s for sure.” Chuckles to himself like he can, but it ain’t real. Memo’s showing true colors: the ‘who are you’ bullsh*t, all fugazi. He knew.

 

You brought the guns to the Embers? “I got heaters,” Derrick says. “Friend of ours upstairs got ‘em from his freezer.”

 

Memo gets a little closer. His front doesn’t break.

 

He kisses you on the cheek. “Good little c*nt you are, puppy.”

 

And he leaves. His mutt, Bip the Zip, follows with him.

 

You’re standing there.

 

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  • 3 months later...
slimeball supreme

 

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Wake up. Get high. Come down. May God give you strength.

 

The McReary Residence is not the nerve center of the McReary organization, of the Union Boys; that’s somewhere between Lucky Winkles and the Beer Garden. The townhouse is ancestry, it’s the heart. Or maybe it’s the stomach - bile and acid instead of blood. It’s the family home.

 

Marker on the map. You haven’t been summoned.

 

Why the f*ck would you? You live here. 

 

Derrick hasn’t got a car, maybe borrows one, maybe takes the route to Savannah Avenue by piling into a subway car. Closest station’s on Huntington Street cutting through Cerveza. 

 

You already know the brownstone. You know the red door.

 

aHgQlEG.png

 

Cars are parked in the driveway. Cars.

 

The car.

 

John Jack’s Schyster Bravura - tinted windows, white walls, painted arsenic green. What the Berk goes and ferries him in. Saddled up next to ma’s car, the family car, late-70’s Vapid Coffee Boy. Right in front of the trash cans.

 

Derrick stops. Cranes his head, sees through the window. Heads, men.

 

Up the stoop.

 

Door’s open. Men’s voices.

 

You hear crying.

 

Derrick’s hand is on the doorknob quick, opens it, gets stopped just as fast.

 

Dermott f*cking McEniry on the stairs. Pa’s confidante.

 

KHTh2UY.png

 

“The prodigal son.”

 

Eyes on the motherf*cker, “Stick it up your ass, Darby, where the f*ck is she?

 

Side-steps out from the common room, “Who?” Dad.

 

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“What the f*ck did you do?”

 

Darby, “You don’t got the f*cking right to talk to your pa like that.

 

Looking at his father still, “The f*ck I do, what the f*ck did you do to her?”

 

John Jack blinks. “She’s in there,” thumbs back. “She don’t want to talk to you.”

 

Derrick takes a step forward.

 

John Jack steps in front.

 

“She’s got too many f*ckups in her life,” Darby says.

 

“I want to see her,” Derrick says.

 

John Jack, “You don’t get to.”

 

What happened?

 

“Aw, like you give a f*ck about her.” Darby nips, “Where you been? You act a f*ckin’ Lancelot you come up here, you f*ckin’ nothing f*ggot.”

 

Not giving eye contact, “I’m not wasting nothin’ on you, what happened to her?”

 

Pa, “You respect him and you respect me.”

 

Derrick glares.

 

Pa doesn’t.

 

Darby, “Kid’s evanesced.”

 

What?” First eye contact with Darby, “What are you playin’ at?

 

“Your brother,” Pa says.

 

“What?”

 

“The one who’s found God, the f*ckin’ seminarian,” Darby goes. “Clerical collars and communion bread. He’s flown the coop.”

 

What, Frankie?

 

“Yeah, Francis,” John Jack says. “We got a call. And he hasn’t been to school in weeks. And he hasn’t been anywhere in weeks. Nobody’s seen him, nobody knows.”

 

“Kid’s off the f*ckin’ handle, he’s outta control.” Old man Darby stands. “Your ma’s scared sh*tless. Little f*ckup’s nowhere, nobody knows nothin’. My kid did that, I’d f*cking kill him.”

 

“I worked so hard.”

 

Derrick breathes.

 

“He’s gonna blow it,” Darby says. “Wouldn’t be the first time. I remember you and the poets out in the city with the pigs and the f*ckin’ pickets. Dress-up f*cking children.

 

Pa repeats, “I worked so hard to make you men. You’re all still boys.”

 

“I never did anything,” Derrick spits.

 

“That’s right.”

 

“No respect for anybody and no respect for nothing. No respect for God.” Darby’s got his hand on the banister, “You and the shines and him with the dust. Make a mockery outta’ f*ckin’ everything. Got raised right but the world spoiled you.”

 

Derrick ignores, “Where is he?”

 

Where is he? Where is he, you f*cking retard.

 

John Jack, “If I knew where he was your mother wouldn’t be sick to death right now. She wouldn’t be crying because Frankie f*cked up. No responsibility. He came here now, kid’d get f*cking trounced, he would.”

 

“No he wouldn’t.”

 

Darby, “I’d clap his ears.”

 

No, you wouldn’t.

 

“He would have the right to,” John Jack says.

 

Ma’s still crying.

 

Ma’s still crying.

 

“Let me see her,” Derrick says.

 

“Griff’s got her. She’ll live.”

 

“I’ll find him.”

 

“Fine.”

 

“The kid’s got a f*ckin’ problem and he aren’t not the first,” Darby grunts. “Whole generation, you and him, all f*cking idiots. Ears out on the street, kid’s embarrassing himself. You, scag and coons. And poetry. You speak, nobody listens, you serene little c*nt you.

 

“Ears on the street?” Derrick says “Who?

 

Darby shrugs. “He’s killing himself. Everyone knows it.”

 

John Jack, “He’s deluded himself.” Grabs you by the shoulder, grabs you hard. “Like you’ve helped any.

 

“Shut up.”

 

This f*cking retard. Any more lip,” Darby goes, “you get out his f*cking house.”

 

Pa, “Know the boy’s coked out his f*cking mind. Everyone knows it. Asked the Hat and Skivs for some names the breadboy Sicilians sell chop to. I’ve got Kit and Darby’s boy out in Willis lookin’ for jigaboos ‘case he’s bought from any. Maybe you’ll know a couple.”

 

Derrick rips his hand off his shoulder. “I’ll find him.”

 

“You’ve got nothing to prove to me.”

 

Just scoffs.

 

Tries once more to step into the sitting room.

 

John Jack grabs him hard. Doesn’t glare. Just looks into you.

 

Derrick turns around, and Derrick leaves.

 

Darby laughs when the door slams shut.

 

Call a friend.

 

Gonna need help on this run. There’re payphones across the street by the park entry.

 

Dial either.

 

Bucky won’t answer.

 

Dial again.

 

Dia duit. This is O’Malley.” Woman’s voice. Aiden’s ma.

 

Hey! It’s Derrick. Nice to talk to you.”

 

Oh, howya’, sham?

 

“I’m pleasant, real swell. Was wondering if I could talk to Aiden, ma’am?

 

Aiden?

 

“Yeah, Aiden.”

 

Oh, he’s with Carthach. His lungs--

 

“Where?”

 

He’s at the doctor. Because his lungs--

 

“Can- can you get me an address? Or the number? It’s urgent.”

 

Oh… ha, hold on…

 

She’s got both. Number, phone. Can head over now, or give the man a head’s up.

 

Say thank you.

 

Hang up.

 

Redial.

 

Long ring.

 

Crabtree Dental and Family Health. This is Magdalena, how can I help you?

 

Uh, hello there. This is- uh, I’m sorry, wonderful name by the way--”

 

Well… thank you.

 

No, I was, uh- this is strange, I know, but I think you have a patient named, uh, O’Malley? Either Carthach or Aiden. I’m looking for Aiden. I need to talk to him. Urgently. And he’s not at home, and his mother told me he’d be here. Can you get him on the phone, please?”

 

That’s not- uh, okay, uh…” Real young woman on the other end. Doesn’t know what.

 

“This is just really, really important. Tell him it’s Derrick. Please.

 

Pause. “Okay. Hold on, I can do that.

 

Wait.

 

Wait.

 

Voice picks up. “Derrick, what the hell?

 

“I need you.”

 

What?!

 

I need help. Are you busy? It’s serious.”

 

Ah, what the f*ck, I don’t know--

 

“Are you doing anything?”

 

Well I’m at the f*cking doctor, Derrick. Da for his chest--

 

Can he drive by himself?

 

Ha?

 

“Is he gonna get home okay?”

 

I guess. He can drive.

 

My brother is missing. Bucky won’t f*cking pick up--”

 

Buck’s upstate, I know that.

 

“Yeah? That so?

 

Visiting someone or something or some other f*ck-knows-what-kind-of-nonsense. Julia’s people.

 

“Then you’re all I’ve got. I’m not calling f*cking Jimmy again.

 

Okay. The boy Frankie, eh? Dry f*ckin’ cratúr that gomey f*ckin’ is.

 

“Kid’s strung the f*ck out, nobody knows where he is. At least tell me where you are so I can tell him you was too f*ckin’ busy to get him. Maybe he’ll still be alive, I hope.”

 

I’ll be with you. Asshole brother of yours’ll live another day, maybe two. Our health place is on Settlecot between Zurhellen and 120th.

 

“I know. I’m ten away. Just wait there.”

 

We’re not goin’ anywhere. Doc’s a real dopey f*ck.

 

Derrick leaves the phone dangling.

 

Pick up Aiden.

 

Take the family car.

 

E87DiMS.png

 

Aiden’s got his dad’s Schyster Debonaire parked up on the corner outside Crabtree Dental & Health, bucket’s in real sh*t shape.

 

Carthach O’Malley in the driver's seat. Aiden leaning through the window.

 

BCLRn6V.png

 

Bickering to f*ck.

 

I know how to drive me fecking car, fecking eejit.

 

“Shtall the digger, da, I’m just--”

 

Ah, I’ve a pain in me bollox listen- ha, like you’ve any use--”

 

C’mon, da, chill the beans--”

 

“Aiden!”

 

Aiden looks up. Carthach just glaring straight ahead.

 

Derrick’s impatient, crosses the street. Carthach’s avoiding eye contact when he goes “Thank you.

 

Just puts his hands up in response.

 

“Look, Aiden, I got my car over there,” thumbs back to the strip mall parking lot behind him, “we gotta move it, this is time sensitive, I’m thinkin--”

 

Carthach: “Can ye move out the feckin’ way me car, feen, just move! Move!
 

Aragh’, sure,” Aiden’s already pushing you along, “Lookit, just f*ckin’ go, just f*ckin’ go.

 

Already halfway across the street when Carthach floors it.

 

Like a weight’s lifted from Aiden’s shoulders. “He gets real f*ckin’ irritable because he’s a little hothead driving, the prat, gets all pissed like it’s doin’ a great f*ckin’ disservice to his autonomy--
 

“I see the aul stock’s chipper as ever.”

 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry--”

 

Just we gotta go, we gotta go. I’m goin’ off me f*cking head lookin’ for this brat, but I got ideas.”

 

Car doors open. Car doors shut.

 

Head to Nisticò Family Bakery.

 

“How’s the lad been acting the maggot this time?”

 

Derrick, “Hasn’t been seen in days. At the seminary or nowheres. Dad sent Kit and Kevo out to Willis, thinks he can beat some f*ckin’ drug dealers up to get information.

 

“Is Frankie still smoking dust, then?”

 

It’s dust,” sighs. “And coke. And gin and f*ckin’ whiskey, often. Kid puts more up his nose and down his t’roat than… a- uh, a thing that puts sh*t down their f*ckin’ t’roat.”

 

Ha.” Aiden rolls his eyes, “Witty as ever.”

 

“Bite me.”

 

“So it’s Willis?”

 

“No. Frankie don’t buy from black guys. I mean, you heard the sh*t that comes outta his mouth.

 

“Then what’re we doin’?”

 

I know Frankie’s dealer. Piece of sh*t. It’s this Greek kid. Dopey or Danny or some sh*t. Kenny Keir used to know him. Knows that guy the Cosmonaut and Huge Henry and a couple--”

 

“What?!”

 

What?

 

“What the bloody f*ck are you talking about? Cosmonaut?

 

“It’s mafia sh*t.”

 

Aiden just groans. “So he knows Italians?”

 

“Yes. He buys coke from these greaseballs dad knows. Sicilians. This bakery on Cosmopolitan. Through this kid Hank Italy--”

 

“Is his name Hank Italy?

 

“That’s his nickname. Dad’s been working with these Sicilian guys a lot. I think I’ll get an in with him, I know about everything.

 

“Everything what?

 

Derrick doesn’t reply.

 

Gets a scoff. “Secretive guinea bullsh*t.”

 

All this is political,” Derrick says. And a lotta people ain’t happy with the current state of affairs.

 

“Haha! Gangsters and f*cking politics!

 

“Turf lines and all these money decisions. Half the city’s got their f*cking hairs up on the back of their neck, man, everyone’s taking sides.”

 

“Gangsters can’t talk politics five minutes. Every idiot at the Beer Garden or in Purgatory, them cunce all racist and thisandthatandbastardf*ckin’--

 

“They’re all scumbags, yeah.”

 

What’s the politics, then?

 

“Like you give a f*ck.”

 

“I don’t. Tell me, though. What the f*ck could be political about this? Drug dealers and dopey goon f*cks.”

 

Derrick takes a deep breath. “Okay.

 

Aiden’s already laughing. “Like this is complex!”

 

Messina Family. Guys who run our side of Dukes. The family is run by a real old guy. I don’t know nothin’ about him, his name is Tommy Waters.

 

mTR2Agk.png

 

“Is he Italian?”

 

Every single one of them is Italian. It’s a sobriquet. Tommy went to prison… I think three years ago. Messinas before him, they didn’t have a boss. Leader before him, Joe the Mess, he was crazy, he tried killing everyone. They have a bunch of interim guys running it, substitute teachers or whatever, and then they get added back to the Commission with Tommy.”

 

“So he’s running things from the can?”

 

No. He’s in for thirty years and nobody can talk to him. Have you heard of Memo Smokes?

 

CoT62Si.png

 

“‘Course. Guy’s in all the newspapers. He’s the, uh… boss of all the bosses.”

 

“No. That’s bullsh*t. He’s a psycho f*ck, can’t even run his own organization. The Italians all agreed he’d run the Messinas while Tommy’s inside. But Tommy’s probably gonna die in there.

 

“Is that good?”

 

Who the f*ck knows? But Memo’s greedy, and he’s a scumbag, and he’s a loony f*cking murderer. He’s partisan and stubborn and never compromises for nobody. He’s making money like a prince right now selling dope out the ass and these Sicilian guys, they’re his crew.”

 

“Papers say he’s the bossman. Say he’s king sh*t.”

 

He’s the flashiest one. Making his own men mad. There’re guys in the Messinas who wanted a coup. Three captains with thirty made guys behind them, minimum. Lank, Rigs and Dio.

 

Dv6uSSj.png

 

“So the Memo c*nt’s crazy,” Aiden reasons, “he’s a drug dealer. The Italians want him dead.”

 

“No.”

 

Ha?

 

“Memo’s a psycho, but he’s stability. He’s a steady flow of money. These three guys, they wanted to put themselves at the top, reorient the whole family, kick the Sicilians back to Italy. They were gonna kill the guy we’re gonna see next, put Dio’s son Crazy Pans in--”

 

Oh my f*cking god.

 

“What?”

 

Aiden’s lost for words. “Crazy Pans?

 

“Yes.”

 

Wiseguys got names like racehorses. ‘Crazy Pans’, that's a racehorse name.”

 

“It’s so you can tell them apart.”

 

I can’t tell them apart with the f*cking nicknames! So we’re with who? Who’s the good guys?

 

“No good guys. But we’re on team Memo. Okay guys over there. This guy Harvey, he’s okay. Harvey’s friends with Jon Gravelli. Jon and Memo hate each other, but they’re breaking bread for stability. Then there’s these Irish guys--”

 

“Yeah? Who?”

 

“Losers. Gilroy Donovan. Harry Hall. He’s full of sh*t, you’d hate him.

 

“I figure, man hangs with Italians. They’re gonna get us to kill these three lieutenants, right? Knock their blocks off, throw them in the harbor. That prick Crazy Craig Tolmie, he cuts bodies up for Don Jon in that van of his?”

 

“We already did.”

 

“...Ah.”

 

“That’s what I know. I helped.

 

“You did ‘em in?”

 

Derrick nods.

 

Slowly, “What happened?

 

“We took them in a basement. At some club this guy Joe Ootz runs, in Hedgebury. And we lit ‘em up with machine guns. These two other wops, they did us a hole, we cut ‘em up and threw ‘em in.”

 

Long beat. Aiden doesn’t reply.

 

Somber, “Yeah.” No pleasure in it.

 

“Was it fun?” Hint of disgust in that.

 

What do you think, Aiden?

 

Aiden doesn’t reply.

 

Crazy Pans,” Derrick says. “Is on the lam. Nobody knows where he is. Coup is officially dead, but we killed his father. That kid’s f*cking crazy. Murdered a dozen people before, more. He and his buddies are all tooled up. We gotta find this kid or there’re gonna be bodies.

 

“War’s on but it’s not?”

 

War is goin’ on everywhere. Down in Lenapia, where they run the Alderney casinos, they blew the old boss Friendly Raff’s head off. Then their replacement, Lenny Madonna? They call him Madonna ‘cause he’s an ugly bastard; they blew his face off with a nail bomb. Now everyone’s shooting everyone down there. Pavanos want this crazy f*ck, Fritzie Zing. Jon wants this midget, Gobs Yoppolo. Proxy war.”

 

wnCNayC.png

 

“Who gives a damn about Lenapia or midgets or whoever? About greaseballs blowing themselves up down the river.

 

“Because Jon does. And Jon pays our bills.”

 

“Easy enough to follow,” gives a real confident snort. “Memo’s the boss. Some fellas don’t like Memo. Not ideal, but everyone else does. You get all the snakes, but not the insane psycho f*ckin’ killer one of the lot. And when you lot do, things’ll be fierce.”

 

Things’ll be calm. Not fierce, calm. We need calm, or they’re gonna break everyone’s backs. Especially in Liberty. So to keep the peace? Jon and Memo, they’re gonna make us find Crazy Pans.”

 

“And we gotta find Frankie.”

 

Yeah. That’s what matters right now, above all else,” Derrick mutters. “Finding f*cking Frankie.”

 

Location’s in sight.

 

Juniper Pike is Messina turf, largely. Most of the big Dukes gangsters regardless of family get buried at St. Christina Cemetery, which takes up most of the eastern border. Roman Catholic, fancy. But everywhere along Cosmopolitan Avenue? Messina country.

 

Guys of all colors - Gambetti and Messina - hang out at Club Vinewood. Non-denominational hangout. A lot of bookkeepers and shylocks.

 

xU6Y7Qg.png

 

Not your destination. But keep it in mind, probably a good haul in it if you want to rob the joint blind. Even if you gotta be anonymous doing it, seeing as you’re working for their borgatas.

 

No.

 

7550 Cosmopolitan Avenue. Nisticò Family Bakery.

 

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The Calzone Connection.

 

The Zips on Doordringen Avenue don’t hang out here. They hang out on Doordringen Avenue, no sh*t, at Il Caffè Doordringen in Schottler. But the Nisticò Bakery is infamous. Major artery in the Sicilian coke-heroin importing racket.

 

It’s run by the Messina underboss. You’ve never met him.

 

Car pulls up.

 

Derrick, “So, is it political enough?

 

“Hardly. All money sh*t. Gangland tribe bullsh*t. Don’t believe in anything.”

 

“They believe in something. Omertà, cosa nostra, all that.”

 

“And that’s an ideology to you?”

 

Derrick frowns. Thinking. “No,” he says. “But they believe it is.”

 

Jingle-jangle on the door opening. Place is thick with smoke: cigarettes and hot bread. In the corner, handsome young Italian in a fully-buttoned button-up stands straight and puts a hand forward.

 

Babbles in language you don’t understand. Only word you can make out is ‘Quaquaraquà’.

 

Is Hugh Nisticò in?

 

Guy gets closer, guy gets louder, “Lassàtimi jiri! Assa si nni va!

 

Familiar voice says “Dusty.” Shushes.

 

Two guys by the unmanned counter. You know one, mustachioed fella. Other is real dark-skinned, has sunken eyes with deep shadows. Flour all over his hands, cigarette in his mouth lazy-like. Mustache is Ollie Lulu, baker-boy is Hughie Nisticò.

 

2nRoene.png

 

Dusty sits back down.

 

“You fellas serve, uh, pastries here? Or is it just the, um, the f*ckin’ meatheads.” Aiden’s attempt at a joke. Nobody laughs.

 

Hughie takes the cigarette out his lips, dusts his hands off on his apron. “Okay.” Beckons with two fingers, means follow.

 

Follow.

 

Kitchen guts and ovens blasting. Ollie says “Two-a the you want to leave with anything? Can have the, uh, the paper bags.”

 

“No thanks, lad,” Aiden mutters. “I hate food.”

 

“The-a, the- the the two of you, uh, you sent-a by the Big Man, Mr. Jackie?”

 

Derrick says “No. Two of you, you know Frankie McReary?

 

Hm,” Hughie goes.

 

“You do?”

 

Hm, okay.

 

Ollie stops. “Want to, uh, to thank you. For-a the help and a this and a that the other week. The few boys.” He doesn’t mumble out of introversion, just isn’t good with the language. You can tell, Lulu always keeps eye contact.

 

Derrick pushes his tongue under his lip. “You ran.”

 

“No,” Hughie says.

 

Aiden, “If Derrick says you ran, you probably f*ckin’ ran.”

 

“Our part of the, uh, this-a the transaction, it was complete. Calò too.” Ollie bites his nail, “No reason to stay, this-a not a discussion.”

 

“Yes,” Hughie says.

 

Sniff. Aiden looks to you. Derrick says “I woulda’ done the same in your shoes. Wish I did. But we had a job to do.”

 

“Our job was done,” Ollie says. “This simple. You’re good boys, I like you troupe. Frankie?”

 

“Frankie.”

 

“I don’t-a know a no Frankie McReary, no.”

 

Derrick sighs. “Okay, uh. He buys coke. From you guys. I know that. My father, did he send anyone to talk to you about that?”

 

Hughie, “No.

 

Of course. “Any Greek kids from Steinway come around here?

 

“Yes.”

 

Lulu, “Yes, yes. This, the-uh… come si dice- know-a the Badalamenti boy?

 

Squints. “Maybe,” Derrick says.

 

“Not uh… non lavora con noi. Marco and Fredo. The Volpe Brothers. You killed their father the other day,” completely nonchalant. “Good boys, good boys. Do favors for me often.”

 

Familiar name. “Freddy Rigs?”

 

Yes! You shot him and-a, the- the- the graves, and-a seghetto.” Snap snap snaps his fingers to remember, “Hacksaw!

 

Aiden is looking at you. There is nothing in his eyes.

 

Derrick blinks. “Do you know the Greek kid’s name?”

 

No, no. I know-a the Badalamenti, uh… his-a head-a-quarter. The pool hall. Him anna-uh… Volpe, they know him. Huntington Street.”

 

“Where on Huntington?” Aiden asks.

 

Huntington… Eighty One, I think… uh the- the Load and Proud. Cerveza Heights. The Volpe and-a Badalamenti play pool there. Good boys. Sweet boys, real-a nice boys.

 

Derrick, “So they’ll be there?

 

“I duh-duh- I duh-duh- I dunno’, I dunno’. I hope, I hope.

 

Sniff. “Righty-o.”

 

Aiden’s already turning to leave. “It’s been a gas” real insincere headed to the cashiers.

 

“Your father,” Ollie goes. “Says-a you a good boy. N-n-na-na-not-a prune to nothing, uh, how you say… lazy, but not. Uh… you don’t a put a…

 

Derrick is staring.

 

“Svogliato,” Hughie mutters.

Listless.

 

Quello, ma in inglese.

That, but in English.

 

Derrick is staring. “Does he say that?”

 

Mhm! But you, I don’t see that. You put the iron-a to the-a Dio face, you put him. Like a dog. A sick dog. And a sick dog he was. But you, he-a say you not-a put you mind to nothing. Maybe so. A ca- ca- comunista, he say you are.” Fakes spitting on the floor.

 

Derrick is still staring. “You talk often?

 

“The Union Boys.” He taps his temple. Grins at the nickname, bullsh*t McReary nickname. “Good killers. Mr. Jackie firm hand, potente.”

 

Derrick steps forward.

 

Ollie blinks.

 

No offense,” Derrick says. “But my father is a rapist. He’s dirt. His word means nothing. I wouldn’t trust a thing he’s ever said.”

 

Ollie blinks.

 

“Have a good day.”

 

Leave.

 

Head to Huntington and 81st.

 

There’s silence in the car.

 

You’re driving or you’re not. But you aren’t looking nowhere.

 

Aiden’s frowning.

 

I’m sorry,” he says.

 

“I don’t need your pity,” Derrick says back.

 

“It’s not pity. I didn’t know.”

 

My father is a sick pervert.

 

“And you work with him?”

 

“I wouldn’t. If I wasn’t a f*cking idiot, I wouldn’t. I’m a f*cking leech, and I don’t care, because he is a black blood cockroach and every dime taken away from his cold f*cking hands is a blessing.

 

Lay off yourself, you’re not a leech.”

 

“I am, and that’s fine.” Sniffs, “I’m a class A felon, Aiden. I can’t do nothin’. And if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be doin’ this, but since I am, I ain’t got the choice. I ain’t perseverating on it.”

 

Pauses. “Who’d he do it to?

 

Beat.

 

Aiden says “Sorry.”

 

I despise that f*cking miserable c*nt. If he died-” grits his teeth. “Whatever. All of the perfumes of Arabia won’t wash the hands of John Jack McReary.

 

“I thought a lot about the J. Some things, not so. I didn’t think this. Scary bastard, maybe.”

 

“Can I tell you a story?”

 

Aiden nods.

 

The first and only time I’ve ever beaten my father in a fight,” Derrick says. “He was trying to molest my brother. I stabbed him in the stomach with a fireplace poker and beat his face in until his skin was purple and he weren’t breathing no more. I nearly blinded him. We didn’t speak for a very long time. And since I have, we haven’t spoken about it since.”

 

Air’s tight.

 

Derrick exhales.

 

I… that’s something.”

 

“It’s something, Aiden.”

 

“You should’ve killed him.”

 

I should’ve.” White knuckles. “I’m not afraid of him anymore. I was, once. I’m just afraid of what he’ll do. I gotta make sure he don’t.”

 

Drive.

 

You’re onto Cerveza Heights.

 

Under the elevated train tracks on Huntington is one of the most diverse thoroughfares in the city. But you already took the train to the house, didn’t you? This is the melting pot incarnate. There’s Colombians here, en masse. Indian joints and paan stains on the sidewalks. Chinese and Jews, Bangladeshi and Filipinos, Ecuadorians and Yugoslavians.

 

Eclectic mix of colorful storefronts and blazing signs under the subway. A million lights. Just the same, white parents tell their kids not to come here. This is Dukes’ cocaine capital. They’re talking about this thing called Bazooka, freebase cocaine. Those Colombians and those Ecuadorians, they’re popping off shots at each other on occasion. 

 

Have you ever heard of a man named León Izquierdo? He is the biggest cocaine smuggler in the world. The mob don’t do business with him - you just met some of their top suppliers.

 

Why the hell a bunch of greaseball kids hang out on Huntington, who can say.

 

Aiden points, “‘Ey.

 

lGYdBe3.png

 

Ah, so not Load and Proud.

 

Pro’lly his accent,” Aiden guesses.

 

Stop the car. “Little bastard better be here.”

 

Door opens, bell jingles. Place is a couple seconds into a song oozing out a record player by the corner, Dancing Queen. Nicotine fog in the air, can feel it chiseling your teeth.

 

The Loud & Proud is small. Corner joint, more a social club than a pool hall. eCola freezer, liquor, two pool tables with only one being used. Open pizza boxes on the second table and on the bar. Lounge chairs and stools. Place is stocked with pipsqueaks.

 

They look at you.

 

You look at them.

 

They’re kids. How the f*ck they got a bar?

 

Handsome kid has the cue. Holds it two-handed, eases off the balls. Sleeveless shirt and hairless arms. To his left, another pretty boy. To their right, two gawky skinny-looking kids with big hair, Italian afro curls. One’s skulking in the shadows, other’s got a slice in his hand.

 

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Kid with the cue, he goes “This is a member’s only club, boys.” Puts on a mean front.

 

Aiden scoffs, “Boys.

 

“What the f*ck did you say, jamoke?”

 

Derrick, “We wanna keep this short and sweet, look’ere--”

 

Kid on the far end, big afro, drops the pizza and goes “He told yuz’ this is a member’s only f*ckin’ club, this is for the members only, yuz’ ain’t members a’ nothin’ or nobody, hey--”

 

“Which one of you is Badalamenti?”

 

Kid on the left, far end without the cue, he’s rounding the table. Afro goes “Are you a cop?

 

Kid with the cue, “Are you f*cking cops?

 

Boy in the shadows mutters “You gotta say if you are.”

 

Left kid repeats, “You gotta say if you f*ckin’ are!

 

Aiden, “You boys gotta chill--”

 

“We aren’t boys.”

 

We are not cops!” Derrick yells, “We just want to talk to Badalamenti or the Volpes.

 

Afro, “What’s the other guy, who’s the English guy?

 

“Calm down--”

 

Kid with the cue is rounding the corner, “Why the f*ck you only know my last name?”

 

Left kid, “Are you a cop?

 

“I told you,” Derrick says. “I’m looking for my brother. Settle down.”

 

“Are you telling me what to do, punk? Are you telling me what to do?

 

Cue-man’s right on you. “I’m Bad Barry.

 

Beat. Air is thick.

 

Aiden laughs.

 

Bad Barry yells “Oh, f*ck off!

 

“You’re Bad Barry?!

 

Barry tosses the pool cue to the kid on the left.

 

Kid catches it.

 

Marky,” Barry goes. “Don’t let him get any f*ckin’ closer.”

 

Marky. Marco. Mark Anthony.

 

Plans formulating. Derrick goes “Easy, please please. Please.” Turns to Aiden and gives a wink and says “Shut the f*ck up, you f*cking idiot.

 

You can see the front break a second, but he gets it. Puts his palms up. Just says “Right.

 

Eyes darting.

 

They’re staring.

 

Pizza box.

 

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You go to Eel Common to get youse pizza?

 

Mark goes “What?”

 

Barry goes “Who gives a sh*t?

 

“I’m just saying,” Derrick says. “It’s a decent drive. That’s a half hour. There’re slices on Huntington.”

 

“One of the guys gets it, he’s a regular.” Snaps out of the explanation when he realizes he’s saying it, “Woah, what the f*ck do you care? What the f*ck do you care?”

 

Afro, “You and English, what the f*ck do you care?”

 

Aiden breathes out his nose. “If that midget munchkin motherf*cker calls me that again I’m gonna kill him.”

 

Afro throws a slice of pizza right at Aiden, slice hits him on the chest.

 

So much for the plan. Because Mark Anthony smacks you in the f*cking face with the stick.

 

Handle these kids.

 

Beat his ass! Beat his ass! Beat his ass!” That’s Barry. Kid smashes an eCola bottle on the pool table for slicing, runs up on Aiden with Afro on his side.

 

Afro’s named Ali Mac. Barry keeps shouting it. That and “Dougie, Dougie, Dougie!

 

Kids don’t play fair.

 

Mark Anthony Volpe whales on you with the pool cue. Smashes against the back, keeps hitting, keeps hitting. Two-handed, seething like a bull, spittle flying.

 

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Whaling. Smash, smash, smash.

 

Kick him in the shin and topple the top-heavy punk.

 

Falls. Grunts. Another kick to the face.

 

Mark!” About-face and the kid in the shadows, gangly prick, he’s on the pool table.

 

He leaps.

 

On your f*cking shoulders.

 

Can’t handle the weight, you fall to the ground again. Little gremlin on you digging into your back with claws, “Ya’ bitch! Ya’ bitch!

 

“f*ckin’ chidrool--” Mark kicks you in the goddamn face. “Get this strunz’, Fredo!”

 

Down.

 

Kid tries to stomp your face in.

 

Derrick rolls. Up by the barstools, stabilizes and knocks a bottle off the bartop. Feels his nose - hurts like hell. Eyes on Aiden at the other end: grabs Ali Mac by the hair and smashes the kid’s face into the exposed brickwork. 19-year old’s blood on the wall.

 

Bad Barry grabs him by the shoulders and throws him to the floor, tosses the bottle at his head.

 

Two Volpe punks on you. Big fox has his fists up, edging closer.

 

Little fox lunges again.

 

Move.

 

Kid hits the bar, winds himself. Derrick swings, connects.

 

Sixteen year old gets floored.

 

Mark Volpe screams like a f*cking animal and just starts hitting the air manic, screaming the kid’s name, screaming in Italian.

 

Door near the rear kicks open.

 

Big goon in his twenties out the door. Six-foot-four, shoulders wider than the doorframe.

 

You know him.

 

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Frankie’s punk dealer. The Greek.

 

Visibly double-takes when he sees you, doesn’t get long to think. Aiden swings at him. Aiden misses.

 

Doug the Greek elbows Aiden in the neck, grabs him by the torso like a barrel, tosses him across the room. Aiden doesn’t hit anything but rolls around the floor and slippery Fredo’s already on him.

 

The Greek’s on you.

 

Heavy fists. Toothpick out his lip, doesn’t even need dusters. Dancing Queen is repeating. Slow fists, a few miss.

 

And then he grabs you by the scruff, by the f*cking throat.

 

And he pummels.

 

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Pummels.

 

Pummels.

 

Keeps f*cking pummeling.

 

Lights going black, Bad Barry jumping into the fray throwing loose punches while Doug the Greek has you reeling against the eCola cooler.

 

Eyes to the right. Aiden’s standing on the felt of the pool table, kicks the pizza box to the floor. Kicking at Mark Volpe and Ali Mac, Ali Mac kicks back and his sneaker goes flying. Two grab him by the legs, hold him above, Aiden’s throwing his arms--

 

You break free.

 

Derrick yells “Oh, screw this!

 

Reaches into his jacket. Pulls a Stud Federal out his pocket.

 

Ruckus stops.

 

Bad Barry’s glaring. Aiden breaks free, pushes out the two staring at Derrick, pulls his own .38 Snubbie out of his jacket.

 

Back up!” Derrick yells. “Against the f*cking wall!

 

Doug the Greek’s got his hands up.

 

Mark Volpe spits on the ground, “Sfacchim’! Vai a farti fottere anzi chiavare, f*ckin’ motherf*cker! Va’ al diavolo!

 

Now Aiden’s up on him, a few inches shorter, “Shut the f*ck up, shnakey little bastard.” And Mark puts his hands up, and they head back to the wall.

 

Hands up. Backs to exposed brick.

 

Aiden kicks the record player and the thing stops sharp. “Buncha’ bloody punks you are.”

 

Bad Barry’s scoffing, “Punks? You lost a fight to a bunch of punks, you had to play unfair!

 

Derrick, “Play unfair?!

 

“Bollox unfair! Me feckin’ teet’, f*ck yuz’,” Aiden howls.

 

Interrogate the punks.

 

Aim, ask. Do not shoot. Hands up, you want the blood of a f*cking kid on your hands?

 

Kids look scared. Mark Volpe and the Barry boy, they’re putting on a face - but anyone would be scared if they had a gun at their head.

 

Aim. Doug the Greek. “You sell Frankie McReary any coke?

 

Doug squints. “Oh, yeah.

 

“What?!”

 

I knew you somewheres.” Real deep voice, like it rides on the roof of his mouth when he’s talking. “Union Boys he’s with, from Lucky Winkles.”

 

I’m his f*cking brother.

 

Guy squints harder. “I see it.

 

Bad Barry, “Will you shut your sh*t, Douglas? Don’t tell him nothin’, barges the f*ck in--”

 

Aim. Bad Barry. “Do you know Frankie?”

 

Va fa Nabla, dopey.” Kid’s givin’ you the maloik.

 

“He comes here, right?”

 

Sure. Whatever.”

 

Aim. Fredo. “He comes here, right?!

 

“Yes! Yeah, yeah! He does! He does!” Kid’s pissing himself. “He does!”

 

Mark Volpe yells “You take it off him! Take it off him right now! I will