Falling Beneath the Magnolia

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The River Heist

Chapter 13: The River Heist

13A Bruce Point of View.

It was tonight, the moment Bruce had been waiting for, this was the moment that would prove to the entire gang that he was the top dog.

Bruce sits inside the Cat House with Chuck. The two of them are enjoying a drink before Bruce meets the rest of the men at the trucks. Chuck had stayed out of everyone’s way, he hardly touched a drop of liquor while the men were planning the heist.

Bruce made an exception tonight to dull their nerves.

“Just one shot and one beer to chase. I want you to be resolved not drunk.”

“Don’t worry my hands are steady.” Informs Chuck.

Bruce looked at him and he had the stone look of a professional.

‘Good’ Bruce thought.

Chuck being focused would be a huge benefit to them. Just as Bruce is halfway through his beer, Albert comes running into the Cat House. He looks around and sees Bruce at the far end of the room leaning against the bar with Chuck.

“Albert what is it?” Asks Bruce

Albert hunches over catching his breath.

“Bruce one of the blacks you got for the job turned up!”

One of their men they had brought back from the North had disappeared two nights ago. Bruce assumed he might have gotten snatched.

Ever since Bruce had returned from Chicago keeping tabs on the blacks was difficult. The crew Chuck assembled were rowdy to say the least. They had trashed the boarding house you couldn’t stand on their second floor without being overwhelmed by the stench rotten food and stale beer.

They had also been drinking in the bars, which wasn’t a problem in itself, Bruce drank in the same bars as black men all the time.

Blacks and white in New Orleans had learned to live with each other a century ago. The local black men knew how to keep low profile, that didn’t mean that black men didn’t have a good time, but they kept their fun within due bounds and within their own community.

This notion of give and take was completely lost on their northern brethren. They were loud drunks, often boosting in the bars about how tough they were. They skipped out on tabs and in addition to being cheap and loud, they had also been talking to white woman…

For a local black to talk with a woman he didn’t know would be an egregious societal crime. Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise that one of them had been snatched. Bruce assumed the snatcher was one of the significant others of the white women facing offence.

“Dellara wants you down at Wayne’s immediately!” Informs Albert.

“Chuck, I am going to see what’s going on. You best get going. Pasty is waiting at the corner of Breeze and Decatur I wont see you until early tomorrow morning best of luck!”

“Bruce wait” Albert is waiting for him in the street.

“What is it?”

“You don’t have to worry about this I got it?” Chucks face is serious.

“Good man” Bruce shakes his hand.

“Well this is it, better go see what this is…”

Bruce arrived down at Wayne’s, he used the alleyway entrance, entering the building he hears the voices of several men coming from down the hallway. Following the sound of the commotion Bruce enters a crowded office. On the floor near the dentist chair is the huddled black mass of a person. Bruce had been around the block long enough to smell the stench of a corpse.

There are three men in addition to Dellara inside the room. Lucifer, Dom and Sammy. Lucifer kneels down near the corpse and examining it. Sammy sits on the edge of the dental chair looking on. While Dom lingers near the door. Dellara leans against the wall tapping his foot impatiently on the floor.

“McKean come on in boy and look at this, it is one of the men you brought down from the North…” Says Dellara with an annoyed tone in his voice.

Bruce bends down as Lucifer makes room for him. Lucifer lifts the stiff arm up for inspection. Bruce sees the slightly rotted flesh of the man’s fingers, his fingernails have been ripped from his hand. The sight and whiff of the man is enough to revolt Bruce.

“Where was he found?” Inquires Bruce.

“One of the coppers we have on the take came across him, he found a room key to Channys and contacted us for a lead. I told him he was an associate of an associate; the copper was please to give him over without having to fill out the paperwork.” Dom answered.

The man has other marks on his body, his skin shows burns and cuts all over.

“What do you think caused it?” Asks Bruce looking away from the man.

“It has to be the New Orleans Crime Family. Look at this mark on his chest.”

Lucifer pulls the man’s shirt down for Bruce to see a jagged triangle cut into his dark skin.

“It’s the mark from one of Marcello’s enforcers, yeah this is definitely the work of Sal Deluca, he is even missing his right ear.”

“Ah shit you saying Marcello is on to our plan?” Asks Sammy nervously.

Lucifer left Bruce kneeling down by the body and stood up.

“That is exactly what I am saying, everything on the docks belongs to Marcello they must have been overheard, Chris you know how territorial Marcello is, he must have ordered Sal to snatch up one of them and press‘em for answers.”

Sammy looks alarmed and turns to Dellara.

“Boss going to war against Marcello would be stupid he has nearly 300 soldiers! We should abandon this heist for all we know this piece of shit at our feet told Sal the entire plan!”

Bruce now spoke up, he had risen to his feet all four sets of eyes were on him as he spoke confidently.

“Sammy do you take me for a simpleton, I compartmentalized this entire plan! The 7 Chicago boys were told only what time to meet us at the box trucks to leave. The men were only given a departure time they weren’t informed of anything else…” Dellara seemed to be coming around to his logic, but Sammy seemed skeptical, Bruce attempts to reassure him.

“The only ones who know the full extent of our plan are Gary and my friend Chuck. Both of which have been with me every waking hour since Chicago. I assure you that none of the Chicago boys have been told anything mission specific.”

Dellara is silent for a moment and then looks around the room.

“It’s too late to back out now. The plan continues and will follow the schedule laid out by Bruce and Gary no changes. If Marcello finds out then we will just have to pay him off. Bruce are you absolutely positive that this one had nothing else to offer other than providing muscle…”

“Yes sir, I am positive we will be a hundred miles from New Orleans and there is no way they would be able to pinpoint where the operation will kick off!”

Dellara nods his head and says.

“If you are sure, it is about time you three get going. Now Lucifer, Dom you will listen to Bruce orders he and Gary are calling the shots on this…”

Bruce is the last of the three to exit the examination room he had one last nod of confidence from Dellara. Bruce is more nervous than he had been half an hour ago with Chuck. He hoped that they wouldn’t step on Marcello’s toes, he could be more ruthless than Dellara when he feels wronged

13 B, Bill Point Of View: (Chuck’s cousin)


The air is crisp, he pulls his jacket closer. He hasn’t been able to see shit for the last quarter of mile. Bill sniffs and smells something burning, he focuses his eyes to no avail. The fog of the night is made thicker by the forest fire burning on either side of the river.

The fire had been burning for three days. They had managed to put out the last of the burning coals earlier in the day. The river patrol and fire departments followed the blaze well down river to stop it from spreading.

The smoke had covered the river, Bill puts his hand on the throttle and turns light to port, rotating is boat so that is stretches across the river. Bill would do his best to idle here and wait.

Bill is an overweight man with a very thick southern accent. On the front of his tan boiler suit Bill has fresh food and oil stains.

His hands are black with grease from pretending to work on the engine to delay his departure. Bill leaves the wheel and walks over the metal bracers holding the thousands of logs together.

Bill pulled three of the pins, the logs stay in place from their weight it would take the force of something massive to knock the logs from their spot.

Looking out across the black water, the cloud of white obstructs his vision from seeing past fifteen feet, he would see the lights of the ship and nothing more.

Bill lights up a cigarette and moves back to the controls of the ship. It unsettled Bill to know at any moment a ship would burst through the white wall and bash into his vessel.

Staring his eyes towards the North, at a hundred yards away Bill sees something through the dense fog. Every light on the ship is lit up like a beacon. All five levels could be seen in the distance then as the ship moves closer to Bill he can hear the ringing warning bells from the ship…

13C, Bruce point of view:

400 yards away coming from the North are Bruce and 23 men. His ship had all space cleared for the microwaves; their ship had been painted solid black to hide them in the dark night.

Moving slowly along the bank of the Mississippi his ship of 100 feet makes its way silently through the river. The smell of fire and smoke had been with them for thirty miles.

Bruce mans the helm and is easy on the throttle, he wanted to avoid leaving a wake, all his men stand on the deck. They are armed with pieces of pipe and wood. Bruce didn’t want any guns to be fired. Only a few of them hold guns to keep the noise at a minimum.

“The fog seems like it has gotten thicker.” Mutters Bruce to Gary.

Gary stands near him at the controls.

“It is Lucifer the fog is one of his abilities…”

Bruce rolled his eyes.

“More magic fuck…”

“It is not magic, being a demon gives him certain attributes, he is stronger than the average man and he can make the air pressure within a hundred-foot distance thicker. I would hardly call that magic. I see that shit still makes you feel uneasy I thought after the rumble you would have learned to live with it.”

“No, I hate magic I want nothing to do with it!”

Bruce hated it ever since the Dellmore shop. Bruce only had to feel the cut on his face, scabbed and raw, to continuously be reminded of magic.

“Gary was is a Lorrent? Jordan Dellmore’s mother called Lucifer that before he killed her…”

Gary laughs.

“It is a very old word it just means demon who comes from the womb. Allegedly there are demons that come from the other world. To be born into this world they absorb the soul of a new life within a womb and take over the body as a host.”

Yet again Bruce found himself revolted by the concept of magic, there was no way he believed in that bullshit, if was true then this new-found discovery was far dirtier than he anticipated. There was no more talk of magic or anything for that matter just silence among the crew.

For a moment the moon briefly peaks through the darkness, fog and smoke. The light from the moon bathes the logging ship, illuminating the thick wooden bases. Bruce takes his hand off the throttle and waits…

The only sound that is heard is the water’s current moving around the body of the ship, Bruce orders Albert to toss the anchor overboard. They wait, the moon is covered by clouds again casting the river and all on it, in smoky darkness.

Coming around the bend Bruce spots a five-level casino ship even in the heavy smoke and fog Bruce sees that the ship has every light on. Bruce barks orders.

“Pull up the anchor. Everyone put on your masks!”

With the anchor up, Bruce pushes on the throttle as the engine purrs to life.

13D, Chuck’s point of view:

The ship had just turned around the bend, he has had the stench of burning wood with him for a few miles. He stands on the fifth deck near the ships bridge. Chuck leans against the railing of the ship he felt nervous.

He takes his flask out and drains nearly half of it for some courage, he moves away from the ships rudder and takes another swig of his flask, his hands have calmed.

Chuck sees a man exit from inside the ship, the person staggers on the deck drunk. The man pulls his penis from his pants and begins to relieve himself.

The man hiccups as he leans on the railing. Unnoticed Chuck walks behind the man. Chuck looks around and when he is certain that they are the only two on the deck he charges the man!

Catching the drunk by his waistband and then gripping the man by the scruff of the neck, the man is caught off guard as he is launched off the railing...

Chuck didn’t toss him hard enough; this fact is proved by the man crashing down onto the railing on the second floor. When the man falls towards the water, his legs by the kneecap smash into the railing. His kneecaps shatter from the force of his downward inertia! Flipping over he smashes his head on the last railing and plunges into the frigid Mississippi!

Chuck turns around and runs towards the warning bell on the wall. Chuck suck in air for breath and rings the bell in the same motion Chuck shouts at the top of his lungs.

“Man overboard!”

Like a chain reaction the other bells pick up the ring. While the crew run to the railings to fish the man out Chuck makes his way to the bridge.

Entering the bridge Chuck finds a lone man tending the helm, with the man overboard the helmsman reduces the speed on the throttle. Chuck pulls a thick metal rod from his suit pocket, he sneaks behind the helmsman, aware there is someone behind him the helmsman turns to meet the shaft of the rod on his face!

The helmsman drops limp to the ground and Chuck pulls him from the wheelhouse. With effort and labored breath, he goes to the door opposite he entered and drags the helmsman. The ship’s crew are all looking on the port side of the ship, Chuck tosses the helmsman over the starboard side and runs back to the helm locking the doors on either side of the bridge.

Steering the ship forward Chuck puts the throttle on the ship to full mast. The casino ship is on course… Chuck spots a ship stacked with logs as high as the third deck of the casino ship. He hears hands smacking at the door to the bridge...

It takes only seconds before the screams of the crew members are drowned out. Chuck turns away from the helm and braces himself for impact!

13E, Louis: Point of View…

Louis is the Captain of the Starbright cargo ship. The boat glides down the Mississippi, it has been hard to see for the last several miles. The thick fog keeps getting thicker as Louis slowly turns down the bend. Louis’s vision clears slightly, Louis eyes are drawn to the center of the river. His eyes open in alarm as he gets on his radio.

“Mayday, Gaming ship , Mayday you are on a collision course please respond!”

Only static is heard...

“Mayday logging ship please move forward you are on a collision course!”

Before Louis can get the River patrol on the CB it happens...

The sound is deafening, twisted metal and fire erupts. Louis sees people jumping from the top deck of the ship. Louis is two hundred yards away when feels thuds under the ship.

His first mate bursts through the door.

“Captain! We must slow down we have debris in front of us.”

Louis feels the thuds and adjusts the throttle to trawling speed. He didn’t want to risk puncturing the hull.

“David get several men into lifeboats, have them each take a pole, we need to push the debris out of our way.”

“Captain what about the wrack, both of those ships will surely sink we need to help the passengers.”

“David we need to make sure we don’t sink first! Once we get past all this damn debris we will help the people. No get down and get the crew organized!”

Louis looks for a way out it is too late to turn around, if he turned he would expose the side of his ship and risk puncturing the hull. He continues through the troubled waters, he has yet to see his men take to the lifeboats… It had been several minutes and the thuds under the hull had not stopped.

Louis pressed the button to the intercom.

“What is taking you fools?”

Louis is cut off by the unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked behind his head...

Louis feels a thud on the back of his head before he descends into darkness…

13F, Bruce point of view.

The men rush passed him, they force the captured crew members into a small room. They counted a crew of six leaving the captain.

Gary had led the men to the cargo hold and they began a bucket brigade to ferry the units onto their waiting ship. Bruce and Curtis are side by side as they creep up the stairs to the bridge.

Inside the bridge, Bruce sees a well-built man with short hair barking orders into the ship’s intercom. His pleas are falling on deaf ears Bruce and his men restrained the crew the before they entered the lifeboats.

Curtis raises his gun above his head and brings the barrel down, the dense metal connects on his head. The Captain tensed when he heard the pistol.

The Captain falls forward and his skull bounces off the wheel. Bruce and Curtis grab the man by the ankles and drag him several feet away from the helm to give Bruce room to operate.

“Curtis I need you to get down into the Cargo hold and help the men with the leg work. I am going to turn hard to port we are going to puncture the hull, I need the men moving fast as possible!”

Curtis leaves the bridge with a nod to Bruce.

Bruce had taken over the controls he increases the speed on the throttle by pushing the lever all the way down. The ship starts to shake more erratically as Bruce turns the helm to port. Bruce watches from the bridge as the wooden crates are tossed off the ship towards Bruce’s waiting ship, the cargo ship protects Bruce’s ship from the logs.

Looking across the river at the wreckage, his ship is hidden in the thicker fog caused by Lucifer. The Casino ship’s bow had begun to sink into the water.

Bill’s logging ship had been snapped in half and was quickly sinking under the surface.

Albert burst onto the bridge with an update.

“McKean we are taking on water fast, we have stashed the crew in various rooms like you asked. All of the crew are unconscious to prevent escape!”

“Okay how many more units do we have?”


Bruce begins to feel some panic they needed to move faster!

“Get down there and help them this ship is going to be at the bottom of the Mississippi within minutes!”

“I will, I have one more thing to tell you. We got the S.O.S signal from Chuck he has managed to swim to shore.”

Albert departed soon after to help the men in the hold. Five minutes go by as Bruce steers the sinking ship. Lucifer enters the bridge and picks the Captain off the ground.

“What are you doing with him?”

“He needs to be tangled up in that mesh rack on the wall”

Bruce nodded his head in agreement.

“How are we doing on the units?”

“Three quarters of them are loaded.”

Bruce turned around and wishes he didn’t.

Lucifer had tangled the man in the rack and holds the Captains arm straight. At the same time as the palm of his right-hand smashes into the joint, Lucifer pulls!

As if he snapped a twig Lucifer hyper extends the Captains arm. Bruce gags at the sight and feels slightly light headed. The Captain still remained out cold...

“If he wakes up that arm will make it hard to swim or move.”

Mickey suddenly burst onto the bridge.

“Brucie!” He shouts in his French Accent.

“It is time to go the water is going to be on the deck any moment!”

“Shit!” Bruce shouted.

He should have had a few more minutes. The three men leave the bridge. As they make it to the port side of the ship the engines room sinks below the water level stopping the ship from moving.

Outside the bridge, Bruce feels water on the laces of his boots, the water is flowing onto the top deck. Water creeps up his boots and soaks the jeans around his ankles.

He lifts his leg on the railing. His ship’s deck is coming up fast, leaning over he lets go of the railing and drops a foot onto the deck. The railing of the cargo ship soon sinks below the surface.

Albert puts the throttle down and their smaller all black vessel drifts away. They watch from a distance as the bridge of the ship sinks below the surface. The ship takes the souls of the seven on board to the bottom of the Mississippi...

Once they had gotten passed the logs Bruce ordered the lifeboats to be pulled up and he took the helm. Lucifer’s fog cloud was now firmly over their ship. Bruce had to use his compass to steer, the Moon peaks from the clouds. He stares across the river through his fog. Bruce spots the casino ship, he watches as the body of the five deck casino ship sinks to the bottom of the river.

As they turn the bend sailing away from the debris and wreckage the men on the top deck of his ship begin to cheer. Gary finds Bruce manning the helm.

“Did we get them all?”

“We did not, but we only missed 20!”

“Shit that’s ten grand on the bottom of the river!”

“Cheer up kid we did it!”

“Yeah but we still have to deal with them.”

Bruce nods his head towards the six black men sitting twenty feet from him.

“Well the hard part is over! We just got the cleanup left, luckily we will have Lucifer so the cleanup will be thorough.”

“Well in ten minutes we will be pulling up to the rondevu, get Mickey up here and get the men ready we need to have these units loaded ASAP, I don’t want to risk a patrol spotting us.”

Mickey had stumbled up the stairs to the helm and makes his way over to Bruce.

“Brucie are you ready for me to take the helm?”

“Yeah and Albert is aware he is coming with us to Birmingham right?”

“Yeah I made sure to tell him if he utters a single word around the darkies that I will pull his guts out…”

From anyone else Bruce would consider that an idle threat but seeing how he witnessed Mickey scalp a man, Bruce would hope that Albert heeded Mickey’s words.

“Mickey I want to go over this one more time. You are going to take this ship thirty miles North. Look along the shore the best you can, when you see three white ribbons tied to three thick oak trees that will be your cue to row to shore. Inside the woods is a vehicle we stashed. The keys will be in ignition. Do not drop the anchor, the charge we have rigged up will only give you five minutes make sure the lifeboat is already in the water before you blo”

“Relax Brucie I know how to get rid of evidence this is not my first heist.”

“Have you ever gotten rid of a boat? Didn’t think so. Mickey I want everything to go off without a hitch, as it is I wish you were riding to Birmingham.”

Bruce stops speaking to Mickey and addresses all the men in the ship.

“Listen, we will be on shore in a moment get the crane rigging powered up!”

Fifty yards away Bruce spots eight box trucks idling on the shore. Beaching the ship the men work to get the microwaves onto the trucks. With the help of the extra eight drivers and his crew from the heist they made short work of the task.

It took ten men pushing on the hull of the ship, before the ship lifted off the sandy shoreline. Once safely out into the river again with only Mickey at the helm, the engines started for the ship’s last voyage.

“You six are gonna ride with us we are going to take you to Birmingham you can take a bus to Chicago.”

Albert opens the flap of the truck as the six men get inside. One of the gang members named Perry had been waiting on shore with the box trucks and directed Bruce to the right one with the gear. In Perry’s hand he holds six envelopes filled with cash, the envelopes are in a bag.

“Hurry up fellas the sooner you get in, the sooner you are paid and are on your way home.” Says Gary.

Gary follows Albert and the black men. He climbs in the back of the truck without a complaint. Bruce spotted one wooden crate in the shape of a rectangle.

Bruce tossed the bag of money for the black men to Gary.

“Pay the men.”

Bruce closed up the bed of the truck and tied the flaps shut. He drove while Lucifer rode in the passenger seat.

“What now?”

Asks one of the black men from the back of the truck. Bruce heard Gary answer him.

“Well your part in this job is finished, he is your cut. We split up the extra three grand from the guy who didn’t show up?”

“Did we ever find what happened to Henry we never heard from him after we saw him talking to that peach.”

The peach he referred to was a white woman. Bruce could only imagine Gary’s face contorting with anger at the casual mention of a black speaking to a white woman.

But when Gary answered Bruce heard no sign of anger, which is a blessing because he didn’t want them to suspect something.

“We looked everywhere for him… For some reason you give one of you boys a taste of a white woman, you abandon all restraint.”

The six black men laugh, Bruce hears the fakes laughter from Gary, he was playing his part well.

Within half an hour of the drive the excitement and adrenaline from the heist had gone. The men in the back soon fell asleep for the duration of the drive.

The trip to Birmingham from St. Francisville Louisiana took nearly six hours with no other vehicles on the road.

It is nearly 2 in the morning when he turns off the highway towards downtown Birmingham.

Bruce felt the bile building at the back of his throat he knew what was going to happen. When Bruce puts the truck in park in front of the bus station he tries to make sure his voice didn’t give anything away.

“Here we are, you take care now.”

Bruce fumbled over his words in his mind cursing himself for not think of something more substantial to say, he was sure they would see through his ruse.

The six men sleepily climbed out of the back of the truck, most of them rubbed their faces half asleep, holding their envelopes they trudged up the path to the station. One of them lingers by the drivers side window.

“Hey if y’all ever need hands for another job here”

The man has a white slip of paper, Bruce takes the paper from his hand and opens it. It says David Washington and has a Chicago Phone number on it.

With the guilt now in place Bruce smiles to him and says.

“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind remember to keep y’all heads down, best of luck.”

Bruce shifts the truck into gear and drives out of the parking lot. In his side mirror Bruce observes David walking into the bus station at the heels of his companions. Lucifer points to a spot on the left-hand side of the road.

“Pull down that alley”

Bruce followed the alley and saw that at the opposite end it led to the back of the bus station. Lucifer and Bruce got out of the truck and proceeded towards the bed of the vehicle.

Gary and Albert were already outside. Gary pulled the rectangular wooden crate towards the edge of the bed. Albert holds a small pinch bar in his hands.

“The was the longest drive of my life I hope to never have to suffer that stench as long as I live” says Gary.

Albert places the teeth of the crowbar into the gap between the wooden boards of the crate. He opens the lid and inside Bruce sees five rifles.

“Two of them used this crate for a pillow, I had my finger on my trigger waiting for one of them to get curious.” Laughs Albert.

“Did you hear the way he spoke about our woman like it is normal it took everything I had to smile at him. Let’s waste this cock sucker.”

Bruce was right about the sensing Gary’s mood during the drive. The casual prejudice that is extended towards blacks is something that Bruce always felt apathetic towards. He never had any black friends and apart from when work required interaction he left them alone.

“Quit fucking around and put these on…” Says the rough voice of Lucifer.

He tossed something cloth into Bruce chest. Bruce puts it on, for the first time he got a ski mask with the right sized eyeholes. Bruce then picks up the dense body of the M1 Carbine from the wooden crate. He fixes a magazine with twenty rounds into the rifle. Bruce pulls back the charging handle on the action and racks a round into the chamber.

The four of them begin walking towards the bus station. There were three entrances, two side doors and one front entrance with double doors.

Lucifer hisses out orders.

“Bruce and I will take the front; Albert take the right and Gary go in on the left. When you get to the door look at your watches at 2:07 we go inside. Aim high on the men we don’t want to destroy the money!”

Bruce stands and waits in front of the double door on the right. He looked down at his watch. His adrenaline is at its highest point of the night, the exhaustion from the drive is forgotten!

He lifts his foot as Lucifer nods, following Bruce’s lead. Both men burst through the doors. With their watches not synced Albert is the next to enter, lastly Gary.

The black men had spread out in the room. One of them stood over by the payphone bank he holds a Styrofoam cup of coffee.

Two of them sit in chairs fifteen feet from Bruce.

David the man who handed Bruce his contact information is at the ticket counter with another man buying tickets from the clerk.

The last one is nowhere to be seen...

Reacting to their armed arrival, some of the men who noticed the gunmen in the station attempt to draw their sidearms.

Bruce squeezes his trigger, the rounds exit the muzzle, with the adrenaline flooding his veins, Bruce does not feel the recoil of the weapon. He and Lucifer fire half a dozen shots at the men sitting down!

The bullets kill the men on the spot. Next Bruce sweeps the rifle to the right, he and Gary fire at the same man by the payphones.

Bruce aims at the coffee cup as the man holds it at heart level. Bruce fires four more shots, two hit the man in the chest.

Gary fired seven shots, all which strike the man in various places on his body. Gary then fires across the station at the two men by the counter.

David has managed to clear his holster and aims his revolver. David is not quick enough as, Bruce and Lucifer got a bead on him, with Albert’s additional assistance. The black men are turned to chopped meat in an instant.

Bruce removes his magazine from his rifle he sees he still has some rounds left. Lucifer crosses the room towards the ticket counter.

His Stainless steel 1911 glimmers in the glow of the sullen lighting.

“Check the bathroom.” Orders the rough voice of Lucifer.

Gary checks the corpses for money he holds up a stack of bloodied cash.

“Albert he told you to aim high you must have destroyed a thousand bucks.”

The cash had been blown to bits and soaked with blood.

The counter is separated by metal bars Lucifer walks to the side door. His powerful kick takes the reinforced door off the hinges. As soon as he is through the breech Lucifer fires three rounds. The rounds impale the innocent man, two in the chest and one in the head for good measure.

“Why didn’t we give them fake money!” shouts Albert as he Bruce walk towards the bathroom.

“Shut the fuck up are you trying to get us killed!” Snipes Bruce with an elbow to Albert.

Outside the door they pause.

“This doors thin let’s do it here!” Orders Bruce.

They open fire, the eleven remaining rounds in their M1’s rip through the plywood door. Bruce opens the door and inside they find a slumped over man.

He had cowered between the toilet and the wall trying to get some cover. The artery in his neck had been clipped, dying he holds his hand on his wound, above his head the toilet paper hovers millimeters over his head.

Albert charges over hand smashes the man twice in the head.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

“He can’t very well die if he is holding his blood in!”

Bruce sighed and admitted that Albert had a point. By the time they had found the money tucked in the man’s sock the man had died of his wounds. Albert pulls something bound in cloth from his pocket, searching for the money they had pulled the man’s wallet. Wrapped in the cloth are business cards. Contact numbers for the ACLU, Stokely Carmichael and other movement leaders.

“Gary gave them to me before we left, you were in Wayne’s talking to the boss”

Once Albert slipped the wallet into his pants they returned to the main room. Lucifer and Gary wait by the payphones and all four men together return to their truck.

Riding in the car Bruce can’t stop his hands from shaking, he could steal, break bones but there was something about murder he couldn’t get used too.

He had killed three men in cold blood, worse these were men he saw every day and interacted with. All with sole intention of being disposed of once the job was done. That is why Dellara wanted blacks from the North, when the carpetbagging blacks came south many just disappeared.

Killing six of them in a bus station would draw heat that’s why they were taken so far and placed with proper evidence that would rule the shooting from murder 2, to politically motivated assassination. The black panther arm bands that Gary put on David and the business cards planted on several of the men should be enough.

The smell of bourbon under his nose shakes him from his moral conundrum. They had been driving for two hours. Gary and Albert can be heard snoring from the back. Lucifer holds a large silver flask under Bruce’s nose.

“This will steady your hands, I would rather not be driven off the road because you are having a fit.”

Bruce rips the flask from Lucifer’s hand; their skin briefly comes into contact. Lucifer’s hand felt sweaty and cold as if he is sick. Ignoring Lucifer Bruce upturns the flask he gulps down half the contents. Lucifer tears the flask from Bruce’s grasp.

“Easy asshole I meant a sip we have a long drive to New Orleans, I want some too”

After a long moment Lucifer breaks the silence.

“You are not suited to this life, or rather it isn’t something that is natural instinct.”

“What makes you say that? I do what is expected of me…”

“Competence does not fully exchange for natural aptitude, killing makes you uneasy”

“It is just hard to accept murdering in cold blood.”

Lucifer speaks tone takes on that of condescension.

“Tell me the difference between shooting seven men in a bus station and drowning a crew of seven in the river?”

Bruce stayed silent for a second then answered.

“The crew went down with the ship-”

Lucifer cuts him off and continues to patronize Bruce.

“So, were you able to accept that they were going to die on the ship just not at your hands, wait that is it you just don’t like being the one to squeeze the trigger.”

Bruce stayed silent as Lucifer continues speaking, this was the most he had ever engaged Bruce in conversation.

“This thing of ours won’t get any easier but there is a silver lining to all of this you can expect.”

Lucifer passes the flask back to Bruce who took a smaller sip this time before passing it back. His hands had stopped shaking.

“Yeah and what silver lining is that?”

“You most likely won’t live long enough to have the guilt consume you…” Adds Lucifer coldly.

“Is that a threat?” asks Bruce with a deep and yet unsure tone.

“It is an observation, this wheel of ours will keep on turning no matter if we fail or succeed. Tonight, was a success but this all could have played out very differently...”

Lucifer took a sip out of his flask and continued his tirade.

“Suppose the river patrol showed up as we were looting the ship. Or one of those shines in the bus station clipped you with return fire. It only takes one false step. No matter how good you are there will always be someone who is better.”

Maybe it was the bourbon speaking, but the words were out of Bruce’s mouth before he could think about what he was truly saying. With a shit eating grin on his face Bruce says.

“I never thought the Pale Death would be giving me advice, look I have heard similar shit over the years. You actually sound like my old man but listen to me we all understand what we have signed up for. Are there somethings that I would rather not do? Sure, killing is something I don’t like to do… I have never hesitated, I have done everything asked of me…”

He waits another few moments before continuing.

“As for this someone better shit, I have not met one person who has been able to beat me yet.”

Bruce glances over to the passenger seat, nothing Bruce said had changed Lucifer’s demeanor.

“If you mean to bring light to that Witch’s son you scalped I hate so say it that does not make you hard. That gang was swallowed up by us without breaking a sweat, rest assured there are predators in New Orleans that will leave you with more than a little cut to the cheek.”

Lucifer added one last thing to the conversation.

“Bruce it is like I tell some of my contracts. Some of them get the chance to ask me why I am there to kill them. I tell them that whether by my hand or something else death comes for us all. It is the one thing every creature on this planet has in common, not wealth , power or the supernatural will keep you alive forever. We all die, so does it really matter why?”

Lucifer’s words left Bruce to ponder the entire 200 remaining miles of the journey back to New Orleans. For some reason the image of Cynthia Dellmore’s death kept coming to mind. The only thing that kept his concerns and restless mind at ease was the notion of returning to New Orleans will full pockets…

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