Knife to Knife
Chapter 12. Knife, to Knife.
A gunshot in the air makes Bruce alter his course, the metal of the hammer sparks striking the concrete. Bruce angrily looks for the source of the gunshot thinking that it is one of his men. He discovers that a newcomer had arrived on the scene.
The red of the setting sun’s glare shines behind Jordan Dellmore. Jordan wore slacks, on his torso is a leather vest with a white shirt underneath, draped over his shoulders he had a trench coat and on his feet, buckles for his calf length boots. Jordan lowers his gun. Bruce looks behind Jordan and notices he did not come alone, he had what remained of his gang and then some.
“Y'all are monsters!” Declares Jordan.
Bruce turns to his men and loudly says.
“Mickey with me, the rest of you, if anyone here tries to run put a bullet in their backs.”
As he and Jordan moved closer, Bruce could feel the tension building. More men started arriving behind Jordan’s ranks. Bruce spotted some Chinese, and a few Russians. He noticed that he and his men were outnumbered by ten. This notion had risen his anxiety, to counter this his body began to secrete a massive amount of adrenaline.
Jordan has height on Bruce, he is at least three inches taller. When they stood several feet apart Bruce moved his jacket to the side to show his holstered pistol. Jordan held his in his hand, if they went to a draw, Jordan would have the advantage.
“You the one who killed my mother?” Demands Jordan.
“No, it was the Pale Death who took her life. I killed your man Gill.” Answers Bruce full of vain arrogance.
“You did? Gill was a good man; I am going to make you wish you had stayed in the Quarter.” Threatens Jordan.
Bruce stood there, then the ground under them trembles and to the East Bruce sees a massive fire cloud and smoke rising into the air. Bruce felt himself smiling, that must have been what Dellara had been talking about.
“See that boy ain’t no one gonna come for you, that is going to attract every cop for a hundred miles.” Warns Bruce.
Bruce is ready to end this, but would one shot do it? Looking at the faces of Jordan’s men they weren’t going to back down if Bruce simply killed Jordan.
The sun has now fully set, and the only source of light is a single street lamp hanging over the street. Caught in it’s golden glow are the shadows of the two men, behind them the darkened outlines of their ranks standing poised...
Their attention is broken by the sounds of footsteps. The noise comes from the right side of the street. In the alley between the pet shop and the Purdue Street tavern, a thick white fog begins to billow into the street.
The fog appears like a white wall, the view from the alley is blocked by the wall of white. Men in trench coats begin to filter out of the foggy alley. Then among the center of the ranks the tall sickly frame of Lucifer appears. The men stretch out in a line, Lucifer mutters something and all the men remove rifles from underneath their coats.
Then Bruce notices behind Jordan, his men at sight of Lucifer fidget and several whispers begin to be heard among Jordan’s ranks.
“Its that Pale Death” says one whisper from the center of Jordan’s ranks. Bruce felt momentum beginning to shift seeing the turmoil.
“Dellmore you didn’t come alone; I see you got the Chinese and you even turned the Russians from Bywater to your cause. It is a lost cause!” Warns Bruce.
Jordan then faces Bruce his appearance and hatred are still present.
“Shut the fuck up, I am going to run my knife through your heart before this is over.” Threatens Jordan. As Bruce is going to mutter a retort further commotion sidelined his words.
The arrivals were not over yet. Between the Butcher Shop and Deli another box truck pulls onto the scene, it holds back slightly on the road, the headlights cut off. A dozen men began to exit the truck among them is Dellara. He exits the passenger seat of the truck; he is still dressed in his suit minus his jacket. His white dress shirt is stained blue from the barbicide earlier.
Dellara and Dom approach where Bruce and Jordan stand facing each other. Dellara chuckles to himself taking in the sight of the street. He only has to feel the glass crunching under his feet to see that Bruce had followed his wishes. Lucifer had also begun to walk towards them, at the sight of him moving closer Bruce looks down and sees Jordan’s legs trembling.
His glassy march lasted nearly 80 feet.
Dellara had nearly closed the gap, Dom flanks him carrying a StG 44, the bulky weapon looks comfortable in his massive hands. Seeing these men move closer, Jordan’s gun hand tenses, his men had their weapons out but the thirty or so of them are outnumbered by twenty. Jordan also had fresh recruits in his ranks, they didn’t have the guts for this yet.
“Easy boy don’t go getting jumpy. My firing squad near that bar will turn you to swiss cheese.” Warns Dellara.
He looked very comfortable as he puts his hands onto his fat hips. His shiny ostrich boots gleam off the overhead street lamp. Dellara pats Bruce on his shoulder and addresses him as a proud father would.
“Well son seeing all your handiwork, you would have made Himmler proud in another life.”
Being compared to, or likened to, Heinrich Himmler unsettled Bruce, thankfully his masked face disguised his disgust.
“Well creamy looks like we meet at last.” Condescends Dellara, he reduces Jordan to his half white and black heritage, intended to let it sink in where he belongs in the pecking order. Wise beyond his years Jordan doesn’t let the insult phase him.
“Looks like they missed a few spots” Says Jordan mocking Dellara.
Jordan strokes his own smooth face in further mockery. Several of Jordan’s men chuckle. Their laughter quickly dies away as Lucifer finally stood mere feet from them…
“You think your smart don’t ya’ boy? Tryin to get me in a chair. Your halfwits didn’t stand a chance. I am going to tell you this boy, your night took a turn for the worse. You heard that explosion, that means no one else is going to help you. I see you got some other pissants to take up your cause, if you think that will stop your head from ending up under my boot you are sorely mistaken.”
“I am not afraid of you; what you think you can destroy my home and it will frighten me?”
“No, son this is your doing. Our little night of broken glass is meant to serve as a warning to them.” Dellara points to the beaten shopkeepers. “No one crosses Chris Dellara and lives to tell the tale, I have no intention of frightening you, fact is you are outmanned and outgunned, hell I could rape your brother and there ain’t shit you could do about it…”
Dellara lets the information sink in and then continues.
“Now before I arrived it almost looked like you and my golden goose we’re goin to have a duel. I tell you what a shootout would be bad for business. I have a way that your lot can have a fair shake. You got 30 somethin men, a knife duel against my lot and Lucifer will stay out of it.”
“You going to expect me to believe that you will fight?” Remarks Jordan. Dellara begins laughing.
“Boy it is a shame that your white half didn’t make your black half smarter. I ain’t gonna fight you I have men for that. It would be you and Bruce squaring off.”
Jordan smiles for the first time tonight, the smile is for show. Given a chance to fight for his freedom a warrior always accepts the challenge. Jordan must look strong in front of his new coalition; he turns around so they can hear him. Jordan needed to restore stability to their ranks.
“You here that, this tyrant has given us a chance to fight, with my power I will bind him to a contract, but we won’t be fighting this with fist, no we will fight it on our terms the way we know how, blade in hand we cannot be beaten. We will strike this scourge from our city!”
Jordan’s men behind him begin to cheer.
Bruce stood off to the side as the duel was set up, he found it strange to set up rules when they should have started slaughtering them. Then again they had all night and the alternative is a massive shootout, so everybody seemed to keep faith. Jordan’s men hadn’t moved or holstered their weapons. Lucifer’s men still stood near the tavern, their weapons were no longer shouldered but were still held at the ready. With the tension in the air Bruce takes this time to light up a smoke.
Mickey makes his way over to Bruce through the crowd of men.
“How are they holding up?” Asks Bruce.
“Well our men aren’t thrilled about Lucifer holding back, but if we beat them there is no question who holds sway over this city. So, the men are as ready as they can be. See the younger ones at the front?”
“Yeah” Says Bruce, looking to the edge of Jordan’s ranks Bruce sees the faces of 18-year-old boys they looked slightly fearful and unsure of what is about to transpire.
“Dom and Gary decided to go for them first, I am goin to do the same. That will thin their front line by at least six allowing us to double up and take advantage.”
Bruce liked this idea.
“There is one hiccup you will have to hold your own, we have Donald and Curtis goin to watch your back, but they can only do so much.”
“I can take care of myself.” Bruce shed his leather jacket, removing his holster from his belt, Bruce wraps his weapon in his jacket and tosses it in the truck, along with his ski mask. He felt cold in only his black undershirt, but he would be warm soon enough.
“Albert make sure all our boys have their weapons checked.” Order Dellara, Albert began a last-minute check.
A chalk outline of in the shape of a circle had been drawn. The outline covers the glow of the street lamp, the lighted area would be the battle ground. The space is large enough for 70 men to hack each other to pieces without being pressed for space. Jordan used his powers when drafting the document, Bruce didn’t know what was so binding about a piece of paper.
“Once they hand over their guns what is stopping us from shooting them?” Asks Bruce. Gary had been standing a few feet from Bruce.
“Asshole don’t think about breaking the pact we could all end up blind or worse! Follow the rules of the contract and nothing more. I once saw a pact signed for a fist to fist duel, one of the men used a bike chain. All five men on his side had their eyes boiled once they stepped out of the circle.
“We need blood to sign this, Albert bring a piece of skull of here!” Mocks Dellara.
Jordan shoots him daggers with a stare but holds back. Albert retrieves a skull fragment from the chopping block, the seven bodies lay discarded and forgotten about. At their mention, Jordan had reinforcement of his hatred renewed.”
While Jordan puts the finishing touches on the pact, Bruce makes his way to the center. Dellara walked over to the shopkeepers. Dellara wanted them to witness his victory, he addresses them quickly, as Jordan and his men set their guns aside.
“Listen up folks, as of the moment you are no longer under the reign of the River Street Outfit, After this fight transpires I will leave you in relative peace. This is a solution we all can live with knife vs. knife we will find out who deserves to control your worthless lives. Now I know many of you have some bruises, and in time those will heal but you will always remember what happens when your cross Chris Dellara, all that has happened is because of that Witch spawn, well we will show you how we treat usurpers, Bruce bring me his scalp!"
Bruce looked at Jordan’s dreadlocks they reached his lower back, several of his men copied his style. Lucifer looked over the pact and then after he is satisfied that all is in order he leaves the circle. Bruce then pricks his finger and places a smudge on the paper, as Jordan does the same, the entire time both men refuse to break eye contact. Bruce is all business. It was wartime.
Upon the pact being signed in blood Bruce felt a cold tingle flow down his spine that made his goosebumps sprout up like a thousand erect nipples. Out of the corner of his eye he sees his men and Jordan’s men shiver they must all be under the spells power.
Neither man says anything; Jordan tosses the paper on the ground and turns around returning to his ranks and Bruce does the same. He looks at Jordan’s men and he sees the fresh recruits on the left flank, even more foolish they put the boys on the front line. Like lions stalking weakened prey, Dom and Gary move to the left, they would try to kill those boys quickly.
Jordan begins to speak to his men; Bruce sees them becoming impassioned, self-consciously he turned around and looked into the ugly faces of his crew. They were all looking for him to say something… Cheers comes from Jordan’s ranks, his opponents men were all his age, Bruce did not have that advantage, his men were all at least ten years his senior. Even Bruce’s outfit commander Dom looks for him to speak.
Putting on his best smug face Bruce deepens his voice to address his men.
“Work together, team up on them as best you can. I will give $1,000.00 to the man who gives me the scalp of Jordan Dellmore!” Mickey yelled in approval followed by the rest of the men.
Satisfied Bruce turned back around to face the enemy. He wasn’t going to fill the men’s simple heads with a long-winded speech, fair pay for fair work can motivate any soldier.
A sullen silence sweeps the street, the noise and cries die away and there are just 70 faceless men staring each other down. Some tense, other shake in their boots. Many have their blades drawn, from the sidewalk Dellara and the street folk watch and wait for the first move.
“Who will start it?” Asks Bruce, part of the rules of the duel were that when either leader, Jordan or Bruce falls in battle the duel would instantly end. It was smart for Bruce to hang back.
“I got it Brucie.” Pipes up Mickey.
The men in the first two rows move to allow him through, Mickey has his black undershirt tucked in. His pot belly sticks out and he looks much older than usual. Tired and weathered Mickey’s face shows a patched and worn beard. Browned with the blood of his enemies, Mickeys hands are still covered in gore. His hair looks and smells like rabid wet dog. From the pocket of his jeans; Mickey withdraws his blade. A black handled switch, it had a worn handle, its razor-sharp blade is flicked out with a press of the button.
Bruce stares across the sea of unrecognizable faces, suddenly one comes alive and the person steps out. He is young and looks very strong. He is black as night and has longer dreadlocks than his leader. He is three inches taller than Mickey and appears to have Mickey by fifteen pounds.
The young man flicks out a butterfly knife in a miraculous display of knife handling. Mickey’s posture says he is unimpressed by the youth. It would take more than a few fancy knife tricks to shake Mickey. Bruce held some skepticism, youth looks confident and composed, while Mickey… well looked like a wild beast who had seen too many days.
Mickey spits at his opponents feet and rudely says.
“I am goin to cut that mane from your head.” The youth smiles as he positions his knife defensively.
“When I poke your belly, will liquor come out?” He jokes.
Mickey lunges at the black youth and the fight is on, the ranks of men watch, waiting for the first man to fall to begin the charge. Mickey strains but manages to dodge three quick stab attempts, he dodged to the left twice, and stepped back, Mickey pushes off his back foot and swipes at the kids stomach missing by a hair, he is slow as he pulls back and feels the boy raking a blade across his face.
With his face dripping blood, Mickey steps back a few steps to get distance, the kid follows not letting Mickey catch his breath, Mickey takes one more step backwards and the youth charges in leaving his stomach vulnerable. Mickey takes advantage of this weakness and sends a powerful uppercut to the boys gut driving him backwards.
It is Mickey’s turn to charge forward, lashing out with his blade the youth ducks and pivots but another punch it tossed out, the boy has a hard time keeping track of both Mickey’s fist and his knife. Mickey’s then tags the boy for a third time, this time driving his fist into the side of his head. The boy nearly drops to the ground.
Seeing the boy’s hunched over stance, allows Mickey’s knife to find its way into the enemies back. Mickey put his all into the stab and the blade easily sinks through bone, muscle and tissue. The blade pierces the youth’s lung!
The assault isn’t over yet, ripping the blade out Mickey plunges the blade into the kids back and side half a dozen more times! Each time the boy dies a little quicker…
Kicking the boys knee out Mickey drives the him to the ground, propped on his knees and before anyone could blink, Mickey had circled his razor-sharp knife around the black youth’s skull and ripped the dread locks, the scalp pulls from the skull and the boy, falls to the ground life less…
Adding insult to injury Mickey yells and tosses the torn scalp into the ranks of Jordan’s men and charges forward. Bruce and his men follow suit and the main fight begins!
Bruce stood at the rear of the ranks. He didn’t see an enemy for the first few minutes, his extent of the fight consisted so far of hearing the grunts and yelps. He hoped the grunts were his men and the yelps the enemy. He wondered how long he could hang in the rear like this when his eye catches sight of the scar on his forearm, knowing what it felt like to be stabbed didn’t fill Bruce with excitement to join the fight.
A group of four men during Bruce internal turmoil slipped through a gap in Bruce’s ranks. Stepping back Bruce narrowly avoids being impaled on a blade. A black man has his arm extended where Bruce had been standing moments ago.
The man stood hunched over, poised to strike; he held his knife with the blade facing up. With that stance if Bruce made one false step he would be unzipped faster than a coat. The man decides to make his move and charge forward, Bruce ducks and steps back as a blade comes uncomfortably close to his nose.
Out of the corner of his eye Bruce sees a mass of someone’s body rushing forward. The newcomer is Dom, Dom caught Bruce’s opponent by surprise. He had grabbed the man by the front of his shirt. The shirt rips under the sheer strength Dom pulls him down with. The blade sinks deep into the man’s chest twice. To drop him Dom sends the back of his hand into the man’s cheek. His eyes roll into the back of his head as Dom’s powerful paws hit him with the force of a hammer. After the strike Dom immediately takes a defensive posture around Bruce. Another fight soon distracts Dom.
Bruce meanwhile is kicked to the edge of the fray. The edge of the fray happens to be right dead center to where the street light shined. A flash of silver causes Bruce to duck, he is being attacked again. This time he stood alone all his men were occupied. Bruce didn’t realize it at the time, but Jordan stands mere feet away in an engagement of his own.
Slashing at his opponent, it is the enemies turn to back up, Bruce pushes him heel over heel as he slashes and stabs in a disciplined way to not leave an opening for either fist or knife. Bruce sprints forward, his burst of speed catches his opponent off guard, Bruce tackles him to the ground in the process Bruce’s right arm takes a nasty slice.
Ignoring the pain of the slice Bruce is in the best position, he is able to smoothly bring his knife down onto the enemies chest twice, his hands now officially soiled and his blood lust peaking Bruce steps off the unmoving corpse and looks for his next challenge.
Using his sense of hearing Bruce listens to the crowd and had noticed that the cries of pain had become fewer and far between. The growing piles of bodies on the ground made it hard to move around. Bruce had seen several faces of men he knew and that didn’t make him feel better, how was he to know if Jordan had been killed.
Then at long last as Bruce steps over the corpse of the original black youth Mickey had scalped he spies Jordan. Jordan looked wild, his arms covered in blood, his knife looks slippery from the blood of his slain enemies. Bruce walks towards him as Jordan rips his knife out of the gut of a man.
Bruce can smell the dirt, blood and grime soaking Jordan’s dread locks.
“You!” Snarls Jordan, as they both lunge for each other.
Each swipes with their knifes both dodging neither hits anything. Jordan makes another swipe as Bruce ducks down under Jordan’s blade he fails to get the required distance, the sharp blade makes contact on Bruce’s face from below his eye to his chin he felt the blade slice through his skin.
Instantly blood pours down his face but Bruce cannot let it distract him he pushes on. Bruce slips under Jordan’s gasp and rakes his own blade across his enemies face. Bruce yelps as he feel Jordan’s blade slip into his shoulder. Smashing his forehead directly onto Jordan’s nose he stuns the boy momentarily allowing for Bruce to grip the boy by his forearm.
Bruce pulls with all his strength and Jordan already had been moving towards him do to the inertia of the fight. He felt a burst of warm and sticky fluid soaking his hand holding the blade. The knife had been buried into his gut to its hilt. Not done Bruce flexes his hand and opens Jordan Dellmore’s gut like an 8-point buck!
Jordan’s fluids and guts spill out onto the dirty New Orleans street, as he in the same motion sinks to his knees. Bruce is filled with the lust of battle; he isn’t thinking for himself! His right hand strongly gripping the thick dread locks. Bruce repeats Mickey’s motion and when he lifts his arm holding the scalp Bruce hears the cheers of his men erupt throughout the street!
He felt ten feet off the ground as his men begin to congratulate him. Dellara beams with pride as he walks over to Bruce. Bruce steps aside and allows Dellara to take over the show.
“Who is this under my boot!” shouts Dellara to the shopkeepers and survivors. He has his shiny ostrich skin boot trampling on Jordan’s head. Worse Jordan blinks twice while being humiliated, his humiliation is short lived as he passes to the afterlife being the subject of his opponents desire.
While he speaks to the men, Dom directs the men who hadn’t fought to start picking up all corpses including enemy corpses. Ten of Bruce’s men had been killed. Dellara doesn’t seem to notice their sacrifice as he gloats to the shopkeepers.
“Y’all are now my property I expect twenty five percent of everything you earn.” He demands when one of the shopkeepers asked what was going to happen to them.
Dellara orders the body of Jordan to be picked up last, he wanted everyone to see the leader... Dellara walks by the shopkeeper’s and lets a chuckle loose seeing many of the women crying, his feet crunch on glass all the way back to his truck.
The 11 survivors of Jordan’s coalition are gathered with the shopkeepers. Jordan Dellmore’s brother somehow had lived through the night. Lucifer addresses all of them, his voice captures their attention as they look on with fearful eyes.
“If there is any act of revenge or if the law is called I will return and put every person including the children to the sword. Consider this your only warning.”
After what felt like an eternity Bruce finds himself sitting shotgun in a box truck, he held his now painfully numb arm out the window. He sucks down his third cigarette since leaving a now destroyed Purdue Street. Several of their men had been killed during the fight, they took a lot of small injures everyone had multiple cuts that needed stitches, yet the men seemed cheerful in the wake of their horror. Several joked and others laugh at the jokes. Bruce meanwhile tries to smoke as many cigarettes as he can.
An hour later Bruce finds himself inside the Cathouse. A thread is pulled through the last suture of his cut. Dellara’s wife Stephanie looks over the cut. “Your arm is going to feel pain and discomfort over the next week, I won’t be able to fix the scar on your face it will always be there.”
Bruce nods to her as she places more rubbing alcohol onto his newly sown flesh. He looks away as the liquid seers his flesh clean of infection. Observing the men, he sees that many are being patched up like he is.”
Dom during the fight had taken a few cuts to his arms, and he got one particularly nasty puncture wound on his left hand. A knife had slipped right through but missed bones and ligaments. As Sammy’s wife cleans the wound, his face remains like a stone, showing no emotion. Bruce continues to gain respect for this man.
Next to Dom and Sammy’s wife, there is Mickey, he had passed out on a table. Wayne the dentist had tended to him first, Mickey got some awful injuries, once Wayne had stitched him up he pumped Mickey full of enough morphine to subdue a horse.
Several other men wait around for medical attention but for the most part a celebration has been underway. Dellara is at the bar drinking and laughing. On the bar in front of Dellara he had both scalps taken from the battlefield.
Dellara cackles a laugh as he shouts over to Bruce’s table.
“Woman are you almost finished!”
His wife rolls her eyes and doesn’t answer she moves on to the next person in need. Bruce makes his way over to the bar.
Dellara places a hand on Bruce’s shoulder and addresses everyone in the room.
“Y’all listen up” Dellara waits as the men place their attention squarely on him.
“By mornin the entire Quarter nay the entire city will hear whispers about what we did tonight. If it wasn’t for Bruce McKean I would have been popped in the barbershop. Not only did he deal with my assassins, but he took this from their leader.”
Dellara held up the scalp of Jordan, seeing the bloody patch of skin, the roars of delight from the men shake the room.
“Settle down for a moment y’all I am trying to promote the kid, meet the new lieutenant for the Gimias outfit Bruce McKean.”
The men erupt into a cheer so loud that Bruce becomes overwhelmed with joy. He laughs and allows all the men to pat him on the back. After that the next several hours are a blur. The wives left when everyone had been stitched up and then the whores arrived. Bruce drank long into the night; he made many trips up to the spare rooms on the second floor.
He lost track of how many woman he fucked; he had this unrelenting stamina that comes from killing a man. The death and destruction of the night had never let him feel more alive. Around five in the morning Bruce stumbles down the stairs to the bar, he uses the railing on the staircase to steady himself.
All over the bar, men are passed out on the floors and on the tops of the tables. He spies Dellara leaning over the bar. Dellara sloppily pours himself a drink and over pours sending whiskey all over the counter. Bruce stands next to Dellara and is clapped on the shoulder when he approaches. Sammy is nearby face down in a bowl of peanuts snoring. Vinny leans against the bar nearby he sings a song that is on in the background. He sings to himself.
As Bruce pours himself a glass of whiskey Albert walks over to them, he gives Bruce a sideways glance that he ignores, he figured Albert would be a little sour about his promotion. Albert speaks to Dellara, by Albert’s tone he sounds like he didn’t partake in the celebration.
“Boss we still got all them puppies in one of the trucks, I know a guy in a nearby parish that needs bait dogs, and many of the haul are mastiffs they will fetch a modest price?”
Dellara looks up from his drink glossy eyed, being as drunk as he is it takes Dellara a moment to process Albert’s request.
“Albert, you… you still doin that dog fightin? Um, well I don’t see why you shouldn’t. Vinny, go on out to the truck and take a look at the mastiffs pick me out the biggest boy, Albert after he takes the pick of the litter do what you want with them, but I better get fifty percent of what you make.”
Bruce swallows all the liquid in his glass and that seems to smash him into the wall, Bruce’s eyes roll into the back of his head and he places his head onto the bar for a minute of sleep. The last thing he hears before passing out is Dellara’s signature cackling laugh.