Copyright (c) 2019 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.
By R. Peterson
Three months later Gin Lou was becoming an expert driver. He traded his fedora for a White-Sox baseball cap. He thought it made him look more American. Sean thought he looked even more Chinese … but he didn’t rag him on it. “Who’s next on the list?” Sean asked as the Packard rolled down Water Street after visiting the docks.
“Tony Italian food restaurant,” Gin Lou said. “Lefty make big trouble … say Tony not pay double … Lefty become owner!”
Frank “Lefty” Esposito was just another cheap hood trying to move in on McGooganheimer’s territory.
“You want bring soldiers?” Gin Lou loved to talk on the two-way Motorola that one of the boss’s boys lifted from a cop car. Sean had even caught him crooning Ted Weems songs into it when he thought no one was receiving.
“No,” Sean said. “I’ll talk to Tony later. We’ll see if we can cool Frank down.”
Gin Lou shook his head. To Sean cool meant to put on ice … something you did to dead fish. Sean had also used Lefty’s real name and that meant a funeral was coming. There was going to be violence. Gin Lou slowed down. It was always better to think things through before a raid. He ended up driving around the block a couple of times … while they worked things out.
Frank Esposito’s hideout/brothel was in the back rooms of a laundry. There were plenty of Chinese out front … cleaning, ironing and folding; Gin Lou would fit right in. Sean waited in the car while Gin Lou walked in Wing Mow’s pretending to look for a job. Five minutes later, a police car with two officers inside parked half a block down the street as lookouts. Sean nodded to the men. With Capone in federal prison, the Chicago police now worked for all the gangs.
Gin Lou was playing stupid. While inside the laundry he opened a door and looked into the back rooms. One of the laundry workers quickly pulled him back. Ten minutes later he was back in the car. “Wing Mow is friend of father,” he said. “Lefty has slaves his whole family. All daughters work in brothel. Most sons dead. Wing Mow say great dishonor … and want die!”
“How many soldiers?”
“Two left corner two right corner … have guns but not hold in hands.”
Sean smiled as they got out of the Packard and opened the rumble-seat trunk. “Which side do you want?” Gin Lou looked both ways down the street before they took Thompson machine-guns out of a special made violin cases. The cops were purposefully looking the other way. Each of the circular drum magazines attached to the 45 caliber automatic rifles held one-hundred rounds.
“Man on left side very bad to Chinese girl,” Gin Lou said. “She very young! He make dance naked.”
“We’ll see if he’ll dance to the song we play him,” Sean said.
When the guns were ready, Sean pulled out two flour sacks with holes cut for their eyes along with two wide-brim floppy cowboy hats and they slipped them over their heads. The head coverings were painted so they looked like they had been splashed with blood.
“Why we wear mask?” Chin Lou said. “Lefty men all dead … Chinese no talk police.”
“It’s all part of the show,” Sean told him. “Things like this still get around even if they’re not in the papers. The first thing Lefty’s boys are going to see when we kick open the door is two monsters. That’s why I always leave one crawling … he will do more damage to our enemies by telling stories than we will!”
Sean and Gin Lou waited for a school bus filled with children to go past. . Before its splash of yellow vanished around the corner, Sean had a vision of his dead mother telling him to stay in school. “Are you ready Tonto?”
Most of the Chinese laundry workers were already fleeing silently out the front when Sean kicked open the back-room door. A young Chinese girl about ten years old was dancing nude on a table where men were shooting craps. The Chinaman almost laughed. Sean was right the look of horror on their faces reminded him of a monster movie. Gin Lou sprayed the two men in the corner as they were reaching for their guns. Blood, bone, guts and expensive shredded silk spattered-painted two walls. Sean swept his gun from left to right starting just inches from the stunned girl and moving around the room. She was screaming, but her voice was lost in the roar of the gunfire. The men clustered around the dice-table dove for cover, most with bullets punching button-holes in their custom made suits just as a gigantic three-hundred sixty light chandelier crashed to the floor. A stairway on the back wall led to rooms above. Bullets whistled past Sean’s cheek. He felt the heat burn his skin. A man stood on a landing pulling the trigger on an automatic pistol. Two more doors opened and half-naked men poured out … some had weapons. Gin Lou turned his gun on the stairs where two support beams held up the upper level The landing collapsed just as the first man emptied his gun. Clouds of smoke, wood splinters and burning lead filled the air. An upright standing oil lamp a remnant of another era fell and started a fire. Neither Sean nor Gin Lou stopped until their magazines were almost empty.
Bodies lay piled in the wreckage as if a bomb had gone off. A bloody fat-man dragged himself across the littered floor with his hands. Sean stepped on his fingers and then rolled him over onto a carpet of broken glass with his boot. It was Frank Esposito. “Don’t kill me,” the man begged.
“This might be your lucky day,” Sean told him. “We usually leave one fish swimming as a kind of advertising …”
“You sons-of-whores,” the man hissed. “I’ve got connections. When Nitti hears about this … you’re both dead!”
Gin Lou turned his gun on a man struggling under the overturned table but didn’t fire. The moaning man grabbed the naked Chinese girl by the ankle and she kicked him. Sean noticed the bruises on her skin for the first time. “Looks like your luck just ran out,” Sean said as he stared at Lefty. There was something about violence that Sean liked. The person getting punished just had to deserve it. He finished firing all the bullets in his gun.
Sean left Gin Lou to talk to the laundry owners. He offered them the same deal he’d offered hundreds of other businesses in Chicago: Protection in return for a twenty percent share of their company profits. There was no threat involved. The business men and women were free to reject his offer without reprisals. What they got in return was relief from the mobs that drew every last drop of blood from their victims and a group of hard working and very connected associates who looked after their own in a business-like manner. Almost all of McGooganheimer’s associates thrived, especially Sean.
It wasn’t until the Packard disappeared around the corner that the police car started. The hit would be minimized and blamed on a rival gang. The controlling mobs had leaned hard lessons from the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929. The damage to the laundry would be repaired. Twenty bodies would be weighted and dumped in the East River to keep sensationalism out of the papers … and nobody talked. Booze was now legal and profits had to come from other places. McGooganheimer was a great teacher and Sean an apt pupil. “A Smart lawyer can steal more in a day than a crook can in a year!” The old man’s voice was a never ending echo in Sean’s mind.
Sean parked the Packard just behind the Church of the Divine Light. He had driven aimlessly for hours – never leaving the city. It was near midnight and a cold breeze skittered from Lake Michigan. Sean buttoned his coat. There were no clouds and a Gibbous moon illuminated the graves. Ava O’Brian’s headstone was near the back of the pristine cemetery. Father O’Malley was good for his word. Sean’s mother’s name and the dates of her birth and death were engraved deeply in solid granite next to his father. Bunches of shamrocks were just starting to open on each side of the stones. Sean picked one of the young clovers and held it to his nose. The scent reminded him of his too-short childhood.
Ave O’Brian danced across the tiny kitchen floor while the family sang “Lift MacCahir og your face, brooding o'er the old disgrace when Black Fitzwilliam stormed your place … and drove you to the fern.” Sean and his father both stomped their work boots and laughed when she made a fuss over the mud they’d tracked in. There was bread baking in the oven and the smell was making Sean delirious. “Wash-up … I’ll not have two pigs snorting around my table while we live in this city,” she said as she returned with a broom. She swatted Sean playfully on his trouser bottom when he turned toward the wash basin. “Someday you’ll live in a fine house …” her eyes were dreamy. “You’ll not be hiding from a man come to collect the rent.” She dropped to her knees to wipe up the last crumbs of dirt. “You listen to me now and do what I say!” Sean’s father at the basin next to him gave him a wink as the woman behind them rattled on.
“I will mother. I promise …” Sean looked around. He was alone in the cemetery. He slowly walked back to the Packard.
THE END ???