Falling Beneath the Magnolia

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Cadaver Blues

Chapter 9: Cadaver Blues:

Bruce didn’t linger in the bathroom a moment longer than he had too. He walks outside the collection office.

As they day wore on Bruce hoped that the heat would drop, stepping outside his hopes are shattered. Heat stung his nostrils; the mist of midday keeps the heat on the street. This torture stays with him as he strolled down Breeze Street.

With the rest of his day free Bruce decided to take the long way home. The heat of the day had made Bruce’s mouth dry, he had acquired a thirst, surprised at quickly he was becoming cotton mouthed, Bruce decides to stop in at his favorite watering hole.

The Cat House is in the heart of Breeze Street. It is a two-story building, many of the men in Bruce’s crew stay in the apartments on the second story.

At any given time, there were no less than a dozen members of the Breeze Street crew, lounging around the bar. The bar didn’t have air conditioning, but it had enough fans that the building took on a wind tunnel like atmosphere.

When Bruce enters the building, he finds two dozen patrons scattered throughout the bar. A couple of Bruce’s comrades spot him entering the building and nod to him as he passes.

The warm welcome is not returned by the civilians. Among the locals Bruce had a reputation for being a cruel and merciless enforcer for Dellara. As he passes several men, the men wear work uniforms covered in grease, at the sight of Bruce coming towards them the locals keep their glares downcast.

He loved the fear and respect that he commanded, most of the locals kept their distance from him, being kept at arm’s length is how he preferred things.

“Bruce”

A man sits at the end of the bar by himself on a stool. Bruce smiles and shakes the man’s hand. At six feet the thirty-one-year-old man commanded a narrow frame that appeared slightly athletic, Vinny has curly black hair and it always looked wet. Vinny also had freckles with straight teeth.

“Vinny how have you been, haven’t seen you in a while?”

“I have been fair to middling, been working the streets lately; how have you been getting along?”

“I have been as well as can be expected, I hear what happened to Walter?”

“Yeah I heard something about it from Albert earlier, he also mentioned that you found Freddie Hubbard?”

“Yeah I caught up to him. Not before he gave Albert the slip when he cornered him on Bourbon Street, Freddie turned up at a Channey’s Boarding house. I have to say it is pretty smart of him to hide under our nose like that, he went unnoticed for weeks.”

“Albert didn’t look pleased, he can’t help looking bad of late, in any case how has it been being paired up with Mickey, you have been working with him what, going on six months?”

“Only four months but it feels like it’s been longer he does not say much...”

“Mickey talks when it matters, if you ever get the opportunity to make bones for the crew you most likely will be matched with Lucifer, being with Lucifer is like sitting through a silent movie. Just know you can always have it worse...” Lectures Vinny.

“I have been here two years the only thing Dellara uses me for is breaking legs, I doubt that’s gonna happen anytime soon…”

“Don’t sell yourself short you have planned and executed dozens of decent sized jobs in these two years. In addition, you seem to pull off a score of these small bits it all add up. Not a lot of guys can boost about that, keep your head down kid and you’ll move through the ranks. I heard Sammy says that you never let a mark skip on paying, look being one of the best earners in a crew is a good spot to be in.” Councils Vinny.

“Yeah it is a lot of pressure with no authority, I am not sure that I am gonna ever make it at this pace I am destined to shake down shop owners for the foreseeable future. I am going over to my booth if you will excuse me.”

Bruce leaves Vinny and moves towards his usual spot. As Bruce takes his seat in the booth, he snaps his fingers at the server twice, in the same motion as snapping his fingers he points towards the table.

The server seeing Bruce on a daily basis knew what he drank; therefore, Bruce didn’t have to say it out loud. As Bruce waits for his drink he observes an elderly Blackman wearing a white button-down shirt, good quality slacks, the slacks are held up by a pair of suspenders.

The Blackman has dragged a stool to the small stage that is located at the front of the building. At the feet of the man he has his hat upturned. Out of his pocket the aged musician removes a harmonica, soon the sound of smooth blues fills the bar.

A ball glass of whiskey is set on the table, Bruce takes a deep sip and closes his eyes easing into the music, he feels himself beginning to unwind.

For the first time today, Bruce is left to his own thoughts, when left to his thoughts he often remembers how it began. Bruce had come to New Orleans after he killed Dean and Dean’s brother with the tree on Thanksgiving.

Bruce spent three months inside of a bottle before a met Sammy Lead Foot...

Sammy found Bruce in one of Carlos Marcello’s hidden casinos, Bruce remembers it like it was yesterday…

Calling it a casino is being generous the room felt more like a warehouse with gaming tables and a bar. The room had no insulation, if it weren’t packed with people it would be freezing. Bruce wears a leather jacket and jeans. He is standing at the bar; his knees are slightly wobbly. He holds his hand up for the bartender on the other side of the bar.

“You’re new the Quarter aren’t you?” Bruce turns to look at the speaker with a New Orleans southern accent. A man half a head shorter than he and twice as wide speaks to him.

“I don’t know who you are, I am just a guy drinking I don’t swing that way.”

“Look kid cut the shit I know who you are… My boss wants to talk to you about the jewelry store you hit on Decatur…”

Bruce puts his hand drunkenly on his face and rubs his eyes in exhaustion, he slurs his words as he speaks to Sammy.

“Look tubby I don’t know who you are, but I can assure you, you got the wrong guy.”

Bruce felt saliva building in the back of his throat, knowing he is going the hurl from the amount of liquor he has had Bruce runs away from the fat man and hurries to the bathroom.

After reliving himself he feels that it is time to leave, before he does he lingers in the bathroom. Bruce takes a small silver cylinder from his pocket, putting some powder on the tip of his switchblade Bruce inhales the powder through his nose.

He back of his throat is a mixture of the chalky substance, watery saliva and then the kick jolts the nausea felt earlier away!

To get him even Bruce takes his flask from his pocket and takes a generous pull, taking half the contents into his body. A cigarette helps his shaking hands...

Feeling functional as he could get, Bruce exits the stall and leaves the bathroom. Bruce wants to avoid that fat guy, so he leaves out the backdoor.

Stepping into the dark alleyway Bruce stumbles down the alley using his forearm to brace himself as he moves forward.

Out of the corner of his eye Bruce spots a mass of bodies. At least two men are on his right as he leans against the alleyway wall. At the end of the alleyway by the street the fat man walks into the light cast from the streetlight above him.

Looking behind himself Bruce sees that there are two more men that followed him out of the casino.

“Look big guy I told you that I am not who you think I am…”

“I told you to come with me, I didn’t mean it as an open invitation…” Snarls Sammy.

Sammy doesn’t expect Bruce to lash out as fast as he does...

Pushing off the wall he, catches one of the men by the arm, Bruce uses his weight and throws the man over his own hip, Sammy’s henchman is flipped over onto his back.

Expecting the men behind him to rush forward, Bruce ducks, the punch thrown by the henchman flies over Bruce’s shoulder...

He was almost donkey punched in the back of the head. Bruce needed to be careful if one of those hit it would be lights out!

Already dropped to his knees, Bruce uses a low side kick, placed into his aggressors knee, he hit the man in the right spot and sent him to the ground...

Pushing back up Bruce had the last two henchman in front of him, he blocks his opponents punches as if he were a boxer getting worked in the corner.

Bruce moves out of the way and lets the man’s fist strike the brick wall of the alley. The man reels back in pain clutching his possibly broken hand!

Finally, he squares up against the fourth and final man when a gunshot goes off...

“Enough!” Screams Sammy.

“If you take one more step I will shoot you and we can take our opportunity to someone else!”

Bruce looks at Sammy, he has smoke billowing out of the muzzle of his gun. The two men on the ground slowly rise to their feet.

At the sound of the word opportunity Bruce’s ears perk up, even in his sluggish state he could never turn down the opportunity to make some cash.

“This opportunity, does it pay?” Asks Bruce.

“It pays, although one more outburst like this and I’ll see to it that you are chopped up and served to the bums on the soup line!”

Bruce puts his hands in his pockets to show non- aggression.

“I am listening…”

Sammy walks towards Bruce. His men move to the edges of the alley.

“We need someone to steal several gold bars heading from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, the bullion is worth a fair penny and we would be willing to give you a good rate. Our boss would like you to steal them for us.”

“I am sorry partner, I am conflicted… I don’t know who your boss is, I am not in the habit of working for men I have not met. I might have to make a refusal given the circumstances.” Replies Bruce.

Sammy lifts his revolver to show it to Bruce.

“Son I am afraid we are not the kind of men you are gonna want to refuse.”

Bruce opens his jacket, to reveal the holster for his 1911.

“As I said if you won’t introduce me then there is nothing to discuss, if there is nothing to discuss than you should be on your way.”

After quickly pulling his gun Bruce says loudly so all five men can hear.

“If you won’t be on your way… Then I say we quit talking like acquaintances and get ’er done…”

Bruce can see several of the men reaching for their sidearms.

Sammy looks at Bruce with hint of intrigue, Bruce then observes Sammy holstering his firearm.

“I don’t think a shootout would be in our mutual interests.”

Sammy holds up a small business card from his pocket and tosses it on the alleyway floor.

“That is the address for a bar on Breeze Street called the Cat House, you have 24 hours to show up at the bar, if you don’t then we will be send a button man after you, we are not people to be crossed or kept waiting. You have three options they are to show up to the bar, leave New Orleans or die.”

Like that Sammy and his henchman left the alleyway…

Back in present day the harmonica player is starting his fifth song and Bruce his sixth Whiskey. Taking a trip down memory road makes him feel like it had all been a dream. Bruce showed up at the Cat House and worked for the gang ever since.

Listening to the music from the harmonica Bruce downs his sixth drink in one gulp and waves the ball glass for a refill. As he takes his next sip he feels his anxiety and stress that built up during the day disappear.

After a half hour more of music and another two drinks Bruce felt fairly drunk, but nowhere near as drunk as he had been during his first weeks in New Orleans.

Bruce blamed this period of drunkenness on his girlfriend leaving him. Bruce stayed true to Callie Bee’s wishes and didn’t contact her, that said without her or his best friend he felt his time continued at Ole Miss was pointless. Chuck had stayed true to his word, after the fall semester ended he packed up his stuff and went to Chicago. Chuck cleaned up the house throwing out all Bruce’s belongings as he told Chuck he wouldn’t be returning.

The last time Bruce spoke to Chuck, he had been working as a Shylock, supplying loans on behalf of the Chicago outfit.

In Bruce’s few moments alone, he often finds himself thinking of the girl who got away, two years later and he still couldn’t get her off his mind. Feeling more drunk than he expected on his next round Bruce orders a coffee.

As he sips the warm beverage the musician at the front changes, the black harmonica player is replaced by a skinny Whiteman with a saxophone.

Bruce watches the man as he begins to wake up from the coffee, his dinner had arrived then. As Bruce tucks in he continues to watch the saxophone player, then as he has eyes on the musician he sees someone enter the bar from the street.

It is Bruce’s least favorite person on earth...

With a long nose that could function as a marital aid, he strolls into the bar with a cloud of arrogance following behind. The man wears jeans and a green button-down shirt, on his feet are a pair of worn brown shitkickers.

This man is part of Bruce’s Outfit within the gang. The Breeze Street Crew had nearly seventy men in the entire organization, they were sorted into outfits of 15 men, the Outfit is run by a Captain. At current there are four Outfits, the remaining men work in the administration helping Dellara or as independent operators, aka button men.

The longed nose man walks towards Bruce’s booth, he stops and share a few words with Vinny as Bruce had when he entered the bar...

Albert soon stands in front of Bruce; he looks down at the black-haired young man. He wears one of his untrustworthy smiles. Albert Hanke is a shit heel from Arkansas.

Like Bruce, Albert is a conman always working an angle or cooking up some scheme. Bruce learned of Albert’s fall from grace during the jobs they worked together over the last two years. Many of the Breeze Street Crew members came from similar circumstances.

Their fathers were con men, or they came from broken homes. Many like Bruce had been on the hustle since they were teenagers. Albert had started out as dog fighting trailer trash, he got into some trouble in Hot Springs Arkansas. When Albert traveled to the big easy, he sold his stock of hounds for a flock of roosters as they were the big money blood sport in the city.

His greenhorn roosters didn’t stand a chance fighting on the Quarter. Broke with his pockets turned out Albert started pulling bits to make ends-meet. Eventually like Bruce, Albert’s reputation led to him being recruited by the gang.

Albert smacks his hand on the table, he spills the hot coffee from Bruce’s nearly full cup. Albert looks very excited, in the same motion as smacking the table Albert says in his unusually high-pitched voice.

“Just the man I am looking for! I have been searching the Quarter for you?”

“Then you best give up your search and find someone else, because whatever you want me for I am not interested.” Said Bruce defiantly.

“Don’t be like that ole top. You ain’t even heard what I have cooking? I really could use another warm body!”

Bruce is skeptical not to mention tired from running around in the heat all day, the last thing he wanted to do is help Albert with one of his boondoggles. Alberts plans were always poorly planned operations. Albert always half assed any of the leg work on his jobs, without having accurate intelligence and a solid plan of execution, Alberts jobs never paid what they were supposed to.

“Albert, I am not in the mood for one of your schemes. I am fucking tired, I spent all morning cleaning up your mess” Mutters Bruce with an irritated tone.

“I heard about that! You found that spook hiding out in Channey’s, that is why I am extending this olive branch as a way of saying thank you.”

“Albert what the fuck are you talking about? You know what I don’t fucking care what you are doing! I wanted to just enjoy a drink and go home...”

Bruce gets up to leave the bar before Albert can suck him in.

“Bruce if you help I’ll give you $200.00 dollars.” Blurts out Albert.

Growing more suspicious, Bruce could feel him being drawn in. Trying to stay strong but curious Bruce snaps back.

“Who the fuck is gonna pay you that kind of money? What have you gotten yourself into.”

Albert looks around, when he is confident that there is no one within earshot Albert leans down and whispers into Bruce’s ear.

“I am selling dead bodies…” With a perplexed look Bruce stares down his associate.

Without uttering another word Bruce leaves the table. As Bruce walks from the booth Albert snatches him by the forearm!

“Get your filthy fucking hands off me!” Snarls Bruce.

“I am not going to entertain whatever twisted, demented idea you have.” Bruce turns to leave.

Albert holds his arm and won’t let go despite the fact that Bruce is tugging on his arm. Albert’s face changes from his usual look of, a shit eating grin to a look of serious and pleading.

“Just hear me out”

He lets go of Bruce’s wrist. Albert takes a seat, but Bruce keeps standing.

“There is a professor at Tulane that buys cadavers, his supply has run low... I have had my hand in the city morgue for years. When I became acquainted with the professor I contacted my buddy at the morgue.”

Albert lets the information sink in for a second before continuing.

“They have six John and Jane Does that they were gonna dump across the river. I paid him to dummy up some paperwork, then I filled the caskets with some bricks. The morgue had the caskets buried today. I have the bodies waiting to be picked up.”

“It seems like you have everything taken care of, why do you need me?”

“This guy is a German; I think he might try and short me…”

“Being German doesn’t explain how he is going to short you, what makes you think that he is going to undercut you?”

“It is just a hunch, but it is a straight forward job...”

Bruce can tell there is something that Albert is not telling him.

“Nothing with you is ever straightforward…”

That said Bruce is curious how this job would playout.

“If you pay me $400.00 I am in!”

Smiling Albert smacks his hand on the table.

“Sold, we have to go now we are meeting the professor in two hours and I still have to pick up the stiffs.”

Bruce sighs and drops a twenty-dollar bill on his table. Paid up, Bruce reluctantly follows Albert out of the Cat House.

As Bruce follows Albert out of the bar he wants to make one thing very clear.

“We are not taking my car! It took me three weeks to get the smell out of my trunk from the time you made bones on Billy Bats…”

Albert wears a crooked smile recalling the fond memory of his initiation passage for the gang, in order to become a true member of the Breeze Street crew you had to do something called making bones. Making bones is carrying out a sanctioned contract killing on behalf of the gang.

“Don’t worry, I got us a box truck for tonight, its over here on the side of the bar.”

When Bruce saw it he almost laughed to himself. The truck looked like it hardly ran.

“This fucking thing better not break down while we are hauling the bodies.”

“Don’t worry I gave her a little tuning, she should do just fine.”

“If we get pulled over, I am going to add you to the pile of corpses, so you better be sure of your mechanical skills.” Said Bruce with a serious tone.

“Don’t worry Ole Top, I been a grease monkey my whole life.”

Bruce is skeptical but he gets into the passenger side door.

The box truck creaks and moans as they made their way through the French Quarter and eventually the leave the Quarter for the other streets of New Orleans.

As the sun begins setting Bruce sees various people moving about. Tourists, shoppers and businessmen are all finishing up trying to get their last few errands in before the day ends.

As they approach the city Morgue he is surprised to see Albert pass the building, he pulls the box truck down a narrow alleyway, the come to a loading dock. Albert maneuvers the truck in the alley and backs into the loading dock. When they approach the loading bay doors open Albert pulls in.

They use the truck tailgate to step on and slide through the gap between the warehouse and truck. Stepping inside the warehouse Bruce sees a man wheeling a trash cart towards the truck. The man wears a janitor’s uniform. Albert hands the man an unspecified amount of cash and the janitor walks away without saying another word.

From where Bruce is standing he can smell the cart, it is a trash cart, the smell didn’t smell like normal waste. Inspecting the cargo Bruce pulls back the plastic tarp covering the top of the cart...

Immediately his senses are overwhelmed, by the horrid, putrid smell of six decaying bodies. Pulling the tarp of the corpses Bruce steps away and begins dry heaving once he gets his stomach settled he turns to Albert, red faced and angry from nearly vomiting 20 dollars’ worth of whiskey.

Bruce chokes back the whiskey coming up his throat. The bodies were all piled on each other, one of them is massively fat and his ass sticks up in the air showing his winking eye to the men about to sell his corpse.

“You moron bodies are supposed to be kept cold looks like they have been inside this cart for the entire day. These bodies smell like they have started to rot, I don’t think you can sell these.”

“Nonsense Bruce, we are selling to a Professor, these bodies will give him a little bit more of a challenge than his usual purchases.”

Albert pays no mind to Bruce’s concerns and pushes the cart into the back of the truck.

When they arrive at Tulane the sun had set, the laboratory’s loading dock is vacant. Albert backs into the loading bay and gets as close as he can to the open bay door. When Bruce steps out of the passenger side of the truck, a door next to the loading bay opens. A middle-aged man with thick blonde hair and a lab coat holds the door open.

Once they are inside Bruce gets a good look at the man while Albert wheels the cart into the loading area. The man is the same height as Bruce at six feet.

The Professor is lanky, and his hair is messy sticking up as if shocked by static. The Professor speaks first, he uses English, but his accent is broken and hard to understand, for someone as simple as Albert the broken English is inaudible.

“Hallo, I am Professor Fargus, the bodies you have for me?”

Albert approached Bruce and Fargus and looks confused at Fargus’s accent, Albert hisses to Bruce.

“What the fuck did this Kraut say?”

Bruce answers the man understanding.

“Yes, they are inside the cart”

Bruce points to the cart that Albert wheeled into the loading area. Bruce walks with the professor towards the bodies, after three steps he picks up the scent of decaying bodies. Out of the corner of his eye he spots Fargus sniffing uncomfortably.

Fargus pulls the tarp back and inspects the bodies, he pinches his nose. After a time, he turns away from the cart and walks back towards Bruce and Albert.

“These bodies have started to rot! I pay only 150 each…”

Fargus takes his glasses off his face and wipes the lenses on his lab coat. Albert walks over and shakes his head.

“No, no, no, we made a deal, $400.00 per body no questions. That is what we agreed on!”

Fargus place his glasses back on his face and looks Albert in the face making eye contact.

“I pay $150.00, each that’s fair”

Judging by Fargus’s face he assumes this is the end of the argument. Albert lunges for Fargus! Gripping the German by his lab coat he jerks the man to the left...

The frightened Professor can’t help being led around like a limp doll, Albert smacks Fargus hard across the face with his open palm. The slap leaves a glowing red hand print on the German’s pale cheek.

Fargus loses his footing as a result of the slap and crashes hard to the floor.

No longer willing to sit on the sidelines, Bruce moves forward and grabs the neck of Fargus’s lab coat.

Dragging the man by the scruff of his neck, Bruce forces Fargus to his feet several feet from the trash cart. Bruce makes Fargus stand by ripping him up by his thick blonde roots.

With Fargus’s head arched back looking up at him. Bruce hisses at Fargus spraying him with spit!

“Listen to me Himmler you are going to give me the full amount!”

The Professor spits into Bruce’s face. The spit strikes him in the cheek and a small amount splashes him in the eyes.

“Fuck you Yankee!” Replies Fargus.

At being spit on for the second time today. Blind with rage Bruce lifts his knee, at the same time he grips Fargus by both shoulders.

Letting go of the man’s hair is no sign of a reprieve. Bruce drives his knee cap into Fargus’s unprotected scrotum…

Professor Fargus doubles over, gripping his testicles in his hands Fargus moans to himself. With the Professor tucked into a fetal position, with his victim incapacitated, Bruce searches Fargus’s pockets.

Inside of his pocket Bruce finds money, counting it quickly he surmises that the money could be divided into an amount of $150.00 per body with a remainder of $75.00. On further inspection Bruce finds the other half of the money tucked into the Germans sock.

Stepping away from Fargus for a moment Bruce hands the money to Albert and then walks back to Fargus, gripping the German by the roots of his hair again.

“Mother fucker you planned on shorting us from the start!”

With his fresh grip on Fargus’s hair Bruce lifts and pulls the man to his feet. Bruce puts his other hand on Fargus pants gripping him belt and all, Bruce crosses the short distance to the trash cart.

Running the man over to the trash cart, the Professor didn’t pull the tarp back over the corpses after he finished inspecting them. Bruce lifts the man off his feet and drives Fargus head first into the pile of rotting corpses.

Bruce aimed Fargus towards the one particular corpse, Fargus’s face is pressed against the anus of the heavy corpse. Bruce shouts into Fargus ear taunting the Professor.

“Try the best you can to hear me above your rimjob… You now work for us. This is how it is going to work, we bring you the bodies and you pay! No tricks or games, I admit these bodies could be fresher, but you were going to short us from the start. No more haggling! Do you understand?”

Fargus mumbles something, when opens his lips to speak, Fargus’s tongue unintentionally encounters the expired sphincter. The sight of the tongue lashing nearly causes Bruce to vomit, he thankfully only gags at the encounter.

Fargus is still mumbling, Bruce presses Fargus’s face harder into the rotten taint, then he rips Fargus’s head back. Bruce asks Professor Fargus one more time.

“What did you say? Do you understand?”

Fargus looks up at Bruce the defiance has left his eyes accepting defeat Fargus pleads.

“Yes, yes I understand!”

Bruce pulls Fargus from the cart and roughly tosses him to the floor.

Albert takes a step towards Fargus.

“Right I think our little German dog gets the point, Fargus until next time.”

Walking out of the warehouse Albert is all smiles. As Bruce climbs into the passenger seat he is handed a stack of cash.

“Here I put an extra $200.00 in, damn you usually can squeeze the money out someone, but shit I never thought to drive the point across by shoving him into the bodies.” Laughs Albert.

“He spit in my face, I don’t know why marks think that’s a good idea. What choice did I have other than to rough him up.”

Bruce counts the $600.00 dollars Albert gave him.

“I don’t think I have ever been paid in full for one of your jobs, let alone given an extra $200.00 after the fact, just what are you pulling?”

“Come on ole top not everyone has an ulterior motive, as I said it was an olive branch for saving my bacon.”

“Not everyone has an ulterior motive… Just you. I could smell the shit in your pants the moment you entered the Cat House so spill it.”

“Alright ole top, I may have held the hope that you will include me in your next score.”

“There it is” Says Bruce getting to the bottom of it.

“Albert why would I take you on? You fuck up everything you touch, take tonight for instant that Hun was gonna short us sure, but you knew the bodies were rotten before you took me on. You have poor planning and execution, if you come on a job for me I do not operate like this. I like things to work like a well-oiled machine. I will think about it.”

“Just a little consideration is all I ask, Alright ole top here is your stop”

They had pulled in front of Bruce’s apartment building, Bruce leaves the truck cab, while standing on the trucks running boards Bruce leaves Albert with a reminder.

“Don’t forget to give Dellara his cut. The rate should be around $500.00 but it is up to you what you want to give.”

Closing the door, he walks down the covered alleyway into the courtyard of his apartment building. Halfway up the iron steps leading to his apartment he find his Captain sitting on the steps.

Dom Gimias stands up as Bruce approaches.

“McKean” Says the deep voice of Gimias. Dom is the Captain that ran Bruce’s outfit. Dom is a man of a commanding stature, he is four inches taller than Bruce. When Dom give Bruce a firm grip when they shake hands Bruce felt as if his hand could have disappeared within Dom’s hand. Apart from his height and hands the size of dinner plate Dom is also bald.

“Dom, what brings you by?”

Dom’s eyes show the strain of his office, with fifteen men to keep track of he is always pulled in a hundred directions all while making sure to keep Dellara’s pockets lined. Dom walks with Bruce up the stairs.

“It is best if we talk inside…” Says the Deep Voice of the Captain, Dom’s accent is not of the south, Bruce wouldn’t say it had a hint of northern like his did, but he had suspicions that Dom came from the West.

Dom follows Bruce into his apartment. His face looks around at the state of squalor that Bruce has come to call home. Dismissing his look of disgust Dom addresses his charge.

“We have found the men that robbed Walter Brun outside the bank. They are two men belonging to something called the River Street Crew. These little outfits have been appearing like wildfire in the 7th ward. These punks in addition to rolling a business owner under our protection, have convinced the Chinese that they are the ones to pay. Not even Marcello himself could take away the Chinese, these kids need to be taught a lesson. The boss wants you to make an example out of these men.”

Dom hands Bruce a piece of paper with names of persons of interest.

Bruce looks over the names and their corresponding locations, these people would hopefully give up the names of the crew members responsible. After looking the piece of paper over Bruce asks.

“How many broken bones should I give these guys?”

Dom answers Bruce very simply.

“None” Bruce looked surprise.

“I have had this discussion with Sammy dozens of times, I don’t mind moving up rank. To do so I will break bones, threaten and steal but I am not going to move up by making bones. I do not want to kill anyone.” States Bruce.

“You will do as you are told” orders Dom.

“You have bitched and moaned to anyone who will listen that you are bored of shake downs. You want to move up? This is part of it, these men are direct threat to our operation. This needs to be more hands on than a tune up, in fact the boss two additional men from the crew killed just to clarify our position, so that means you will get your hands as dirty as necessary! You will meet Lucifer tomorrow as he will be taking the lead on this. You are to follow any of his orders, meet him at 7 am sharp at Luther’s.”

Without another word Dom leaves the apartment.

Bruce tosses the piece of paper on the counter top and opens his fridge. He takes a can of cold beer from the fridge; he holds the cold surface of the can to the back of his neck. After Bruce takes a sip, he kicks the wooden kitchen chair in front of him out of frustration.

’I have to search the entire 7th ward tomorrow, and with Lucifer no less.’ There is no denying it tomorrow would be long. Lucifer, that guy always gave Bruce the creeps.

He lays down on the bed needing as much sleep as possible. During his conversation with Dom, Bruce started come down off the Whiskey, the beer helps to push off that feeling for a while, Bruce closes his eyes for another night of sweaty tossing and turning in the endless New Orleans heat.

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