Chapter 17: Death.
17A, Callie Bee Point of View:
The rain started to fall the moment his eyes rolled into the back of his head. The rain soaks her blue dress, and hair. She looks around for anything or anyone that can help.
Chuck is in front of her she saw his chest rise and fall a few times and then he is still…
“Bruce! Bruce!” screams Callie Bee, shouting his name she had never felt more alone.
She presses as hard as she can. Bee keeps screaming his name as she keeps pressure on the two wounds to his side.
Suddenly Bruce’s body raises in the air, holding him is the one called Lucifer!
Bee; moves with him and Bruce’s body keeping the pressure on his wounds. Lucifer places Bruce inside the car, the enemy arrived in.
Inside the back-seat Callie Bee keeps the pressure on wounds, her two hands are five inches apart, Callie Bee wondered as blood slips through the cracks of her fingers how bad the damage is. She pushes down on his skin harder!
Callie Bee looks up briefly and then again presses down harder, she clogs his bleeding and to her success, his chest still raises. She sees a hospital zoom past the window of the sedan.
“You missed the hospital! Turn around!” Shouts Callie Bee with her voice full of panic and desperation.
“He can’t go to a hospital; I have a doctor nearby just keep pressure on those wounds” Hisses Lucifer.
Bee did not like his voice, it seemed to make the hair on the back of her neck stand up… But what could she do other than to keep Bruce from bleeding out.
Callie Bee says no more, the car makes several sharp turns, she could see they were driving through a neighborhood at a fast pace, the mosquito porches could be seen zipping past inside of the vehicle.
Soon the sedan comes to a screeching halt. Several men emerge from the shadows as Lucifer opens the back door and drags Bruce out of the car.
The pressure she had put on his wounds is lifted by Bruce being pulled from the car. Callie Bee dives out after the man she loves. She follows behind in the process she jams her palm onto the worse of his gunshot wounds.
Callie Bee’s eyes catch sight of a sign at the front of the building. Wayne’s Dental, when Lucifer carries Bruce to the side of the building Callie Bee has no choice but to follow.
Lucifer shouts to one of the men as the man holds open the door for Lucifer, he hisses out orders.
“One of you get upstairs to Wayne’s apartment. Tell him we got a guy with three gunshot wounds.”
One of the men runs down the small alleyway towards Wayne’s apartment
Lucifer enters the small hallway and leads her to an empty Examination room. There is no dental chair like she expected. Instead a single, stainless-steel table leans against the wall, the table looked as if it weighed a few hundred pounds, it almost seemed molded to the wall. Lucifer dumps Bruce’s body onto the table. Callie Bee moves out of the way as Lucifer pulls the table across the room centering it.
She continues to hold pressure on the wounds as Lucifer begins to pull tools from drawers and cabinets, Lucifer runs over to Bruce’s side, in his hand are two plastic morphine injectors.
Lucifer sticks the tube’s needle into the skin above Bruce’s knee. Callie Bee see’s Bruce’s expression relax, he had been out cold since he’d been dropped in the alleyway, but his face kept tensing...
Lucifer left his side and flicked the surgery lights overhead and the room becomes so much brighter. As the lights over Bruce bare down, Lucifer uses a pair of scissors to cut Bruce out of his clothes. Just as Lucifer begins cutting away the torso of his jacket, a man in pajama bottoms and undershirt walks in, in the man’s hand is a large leather bag.
The man puts a pair of stethoscopes on and listens to Bruce’s heart, behind him a woman had slipped into the room.
“He has a steady pulse; Martha get an IV started. You, only let go when I tell you to!” Lucifer fills Wayne in on the situation.
“Wayne he has taken three gunshots, one to the shoulder and two to the side.”
Lucifer continues to use the pair of scissors to cut away Bruce’s tux, when he does, Callie Bee stares at Bruce’s bare skin resting on the cold metal table. His body is soaked in a protective layer of sweat, the muscles tense while he lays on the icy table stark naked.
“Move your hand!” Orders Wayne.
Callie Bee takes her two palms off Bruce’s body. Her worries turn to fear as the blood leaks from his side, Wayne has tools in his hand and begins to dress Bruce’s wounds. The women has two IV’s going into Bruce’s body.
One IV is a clear solution, the other is a red bag, the woman squeezes the red bag to make sure that the blood didn’t clump. With the transfusion underway the woman takes over Callie Bee’s spot to assist her husband.
Wayne looks over the extent of the injuries. He stares at the two wounds to the side, the one with the larger and more violent looking hole is a through and through, meaning the slug is somewhere in the alleyway Bruce had been shot in. Wayne takes the forceps from his bag.
Wayne sets the forceps on Bruce’s chest as his fingers move and pinch the skin around the entrance to the second wound.
“There’s no exit wound…” Informs Wayne.
The dentist begins to dig his tools into Bruce’s wounds. While he dresses Bruce’s injuries, Wayne’s wife keeps an eye on the level of the blood, she has another bag waiting. She also uses Wayne’s stethoscope to track Bruce’s pulse. Once Wayne works the bullet out, he drops it into a nearby dish.
“Looks like both rounds missed hitting any vitals, we are going to need to keep giving him blood.”
Callie Bee lingers in the corner of the room as Wayne spent hours operating on the boy. Sweat hangs from the tip of his nose... Wayne is still in the process of cleaning the wounds, he had stitched shut most of the damage. At long last Wayne steps away from Bruce, he had been operating on him for close to five hours.
Callie Bee takes the stool from the small desk station and sets it at his side. She strokes his hair, she still found herself running her finger through the mop she loved so dearly even year later some habits are hard to shake.
This time the thick mop is damp with sweat, flakes of dried blood stick to her hands while she strokes him. Looking at her hands she sees that they are stained with Bruce’s blood.
The sight of his blood didn’t bother her, all she cared about was if he was okay. He had remained unconscious during the entire ordeal. She wiped his brow with a damp cloth that the Dentist’s wife had left, she laces her hand through his, they felt different. Not just firm but hard and course.
Before she can analyze his hands, Bee heard footsteps and noise outside the room, Bee looks towards the door. Wayne steps away from Bruce to face the door.
The sound of a distinct southern drawl is heard. The door opens and in walks a large man. He has a droopy face like that of a bulldog. He is dressed in an expensive three-piece suit; he doesn’t seem to acknowledge Callie Bee’s presence.
“Tell me Wayne what his prognosis is?”
“Chris he took three gunshots, on to the shoulder, it just missed the rotator cuff, the second two were to his side. One punched right through him and hit no vitals. The second round looks like it passed through someone taking the power out of it, it was a heartbeat away from hitting him in the kidney. If he had gotten here ten minutes later he’d be dead...”
It felt like someone had dropped her out of a plane, her stomach begins to do flips hearing that he could have died!
The limp hand Bee is holding gives a faint squeeze. Her tear laden eyes open wide as she stares down. A pair of chocolate brown eyes open, they blink twice.
“Bruce?” Her tears of sudden joy drop onto his chest with a splash.
“Can you hear blink three times if you can hear me.”
Wayne and the large man named Chris stand over her shoulder. They watch as three times he blinks his eyes. He opens his mouth and whispers.
“What happened to Chuck?”
Callie Bee stares into his eyes and doesn’t say anything how could she break this news? Would the news of his best friend’s death cause him to give up? Seeing her non-reaction Bruce mutters only a single word.
A hand is placed on Bruce’s shoulder the heavy-set man speaks to Bruce.
“Lucifer told us what happened, when I get ahold of Albert he will be fed to the dogs, your buddy is in the morgue I am sorry we couldn’t get to him in time.”
Wayne pumps morphine into Bruce, Bruce eyes become cloudier.
“How long will he be laid up?”
“It hard to tell right now, it’s gonna be a few months at the least. You should think about taking him to Madame Bouquet’s the girls there will offer a pretty sight.”
“I got an account with Sally Bouquet, But I would be slightly worried about her regulars coming in and out. If Marcello tried once he will try again.”
Callie Bee understood what the men were discussing, she suddenly found her voice.
“He is not going to be sent to some whorehouse!”
“And just who might you be… One Bruce’s many dates?”
She heard someone clear his voice behind her, Callie Bee didn’t notice Lucifer leaning against the wall. His long frame nearly touches the ceiling, his arms are folded across his chest.
“Mr. Dellara she used to be his girlfriend when they attended college, McKean snuck out of the Cat House tonight, and met her at the Monteleone.”
“Well sweetheart I need someone to take care of him, and the whorehouse is the only place that has caring hands, I have brutes and leg breakers in my organization but no orderly’s.”
Dellara flicks the bag of blood hanging near Bruce, he stares at Callie Bee.
She looks down at her nails, under the polished manicured nails, dried blood is stuck between the skin and nail. Without any concerns to her life or career she find herself saying.
“I will take care of him; he can come back to my hotel!” Bee suggests earnestly.
“The hotel he just got shot outside of… I feel he would be better off somewhere with people I know, Vinny!” shouts Dellara in the hallway.
A middle-aged man with damp looking hair steps into the room.
“Yes, Mr. Dellara?
“Get down to Madam Bouquets, tell her I need rooms and the largest suite she has and make sure that she rents to no one else.”
When Vinny departs Bee looks at Dellara with daggers in her eyes. Dellara looks slightly taken back by her look but impressed by her tone.
“I will take care of him whatever he needs I will pay! But I will not let him wake up in a house full of harlots!!”
“Easy there girl, I need him in a place where I can control the environment. I can make sure that no one bothers him. Without the johns coming in and out, the place will feel like a bed and breakfast. Since you are intent on staying with him I am going to send one of my men to collect your things.”
Dellara soon left, it wasn’t until several hours later that they had moved him. Bruce had been sedated by Wayne and remained unconscious for the duration of the move. It was first light when they stepped outside. Callie Bee followed behind the stretcher held by two men she didn’t know.
She now understood that Bruce was part of some sort of gang, these men seemed to regard him as some cherished member. Several even offered her condolences as they loaded him onto a vehicle for transport. They used a flatbed truck to transport him, she looks for a way to hop on the bed of the truck, if she stepped up she would step on her dress. She didn’t care if it ripped but she didn’t want to fall.
“What are you doing?”
The man who asked her this is around Bruce’s height, he has a shadow of someone who didn’t shave daily, he had stomach that is slightly portly. He spoke in a Southern, French accent. She didn’t get a chance to answer as he spoke.
“You are covered in brown, you can’t really tell wearing it, but you look like you just had a bucket of dry blood dumped on you. I don’t have a flap on his truck and the tailgate will block him from view, you darling on the other hand might get mistaken for someone who has just been beaten and kidnapped, you need to ride in the cab.”
That night she looked around the large room. The air conditioner is on, she knew how Bruce loved a cold room. The madame that ran this establishment brought her a change of clothes that to her surprise were modest.
She expected leopard print or some other awful colors instead she wore jeans and a sweater, which she is thankful for since she could see the frost on a nearby window from the air conditioner.
Her pendant still hung from her bracelet, which she place on top of the mahogany dresser. She glanced at herself in the mirror of the dresser. She looked tired and worn, Bee crosses room to check on Bruce.
Pacing around the room she spies a telephone in the corner of the room. After feeling his head she is certain there hasn’t been a change. Bee tries her hardest to remember the numbers, she decides to call the operator first.
“Hello, please connect me to the front desk of the Monteleone?”
“One moment please.”
There is a few second of dead space and then the person on the end asks.
“The Monteleone on Royal Street in New Orleans?”
“Yes Please” Answers Bee.
“Thank you have a great day” The line connects to the hotel and she hears the clerk.
“Hello, may I please speak with Pete Briggs in room 121.”
The phone connects and she hears the voice of her director.
“We didn’t hear from you all morning we were worried when we heard all the gunshots outside and couldn’t find you.”
“Sorry my dad had an issue, so I got on the first train for Nashville.” Lies Bee.
She gave a second to let the new be absorbed before Callie Bee continued.
“I wanted to call to say that I won’t see you in Chicago for 2 weeks, but it might be longer.”
“That is not going to be a problem, the stage needs to be replaced rotten support beams. We have pushed the show by three weeks, but we will add an extra week in Chicago to make up for it and we are going to hit NYC for a three-night gig.”
“That should work for me I will see you in five weeks.” Bee put the phone down onto the receiver. She had some time to see Bruce through the worse of his injuries. Bee returns to the chair at his bedside.
Bruce remained unconscious for days following the surgery. He hadn’t woken since talking briefly with his boss. She wanted to be the first thing he saw when he woke. This time, he kept her waiting. She occupied her time by cleaning his sheets, dressings and of course himself.
Unlike the books she read about maidens taking care of the heroes, truthfully there is nothing romantic about gunshot wounds. They were violent and ghastly looking craters to the skin. More gut wrenching, the sheer trauma of three gunshots had driven Bruce from consciousness.
When she wasn’t tending to her man she occupied her time reading over a script.
Her agent had sent this to the hotel a few days ago and she tossed it on the bottom of her makeup bag. Dellara’s men had cleaned out her room of her belongings and brought them to her. She uses a pen to underline key words on the script as she reads.
So far she found this script interesting, if she got the role than she would film the movie on site in Rome. Bee hadn’t been to Europe since Daddy brought her and Mamma to Paris when Bee turned 16. She flips several more pages, as she licks her thumb she hears coughing coming from the bed.
Bee takes the glasses off the tip of her nose and sets them on the coffee table in their small sitting area. She goes over on to the bed, Bruce is sweaty, soaked through his white shirt,
Wayne had said he would burn a fever at points. From the bedside table where is medications are laid out. Bee takes the preloaded syringe as instructed and injects into a tube connected to the ivy rig. She then takes a morphine injector from the bedside table and sticks it into Bruce’s leg.
She strokes his head as he settles down and falls into a deeper sleep.
17B, Dellara point of view.
Breeze Street Collection Office second floor conference room.
A smoky and dimly lit room comes into view, Six men sit around a table. Only coffee had been allowed at this meeting. Not that anyone had touched anything, the mood in the room is tense to say the least. A Captain by the name of Dom Gimias speaks his baritone voice speaks with reluctance but he speaks the words, nonetheless.
“Rick and Pinky Stevens were shot in Walters. Rick was shot in the chair and pinky happened to be waiting his turn and ended up as collateral damage. Walter took a shot in the arm but failed to report the shooting to the police.”
Sitting on his right is Sammy Lead Foot, Sammy looks to be in a sorted state of affairs the last few days of the turf war have been stressful.
“That puts our death toll at six in less than one week. Giambi, Marcello’s underboss seems hellbent on eradicating us. Rick and Pinky were just the latest we also can’t find either Perry or Leo so we could be looking at 8 deaths total.”
Across from Sammy is Neil one of Dellara’s other Captains.
“Why don’t we try and pay them off, Marcello is a business man the right amount of cash could make them see reason.”
Dellara interjects into the conversation.
“Neil you don’t think I tried that; he is not budging to him he feels it is a matter of honor. Losing Sal Deluca and Ted Deluca has made him furious; he won’t settle for anything less than Bruce’s head.”
Neil looks at Dellara with a serious and assured demeanor.
“You must be considering it? We can’t conduct business, the businesses that pay us protection are worried that any moment a gunfight will erupt. For every moment this war drags on, we hemorrhage money.”
Dellara gives Neil a look of deep loathing and disappointment.
“I would never sell out one of my men! You would have me give up a member of this crew to a fate of pointless torture and death? When he made bones for this crew he became fully under our protection that and he is the best earner I have!”
Neil feels the all the eyes in to room baring down on him. He can ignore all the stares in his direction save one, his cold stare unsettles him and makes the hair on the back of Neil’s neck stand up. Lucifer then hisses.
“Do you have any honor; this kid puts money in your pocket. He does anything he is asked, not only that he is a Lieutenant in this crew, and you would really hand him over? Giving Bruce to Marcello wont change anything not really. If we hand him over after half a dozen men get popped, that will not only show them our weakness if you think that all the other piss ants aren’t watching you would be a fool.”
“He is right the only thing giving him up will accomplish will be our demise. We are the biggest game outside of Marcello, it is advantageous for him to take us out considering. When my daddy ran this crew he always warned the Italian’s would want a larger piece of the Quarter. Well boys this is it, the wolf is at our door. Some of you want to let the wolf in to warm himself by the fire. Once his fur is dry he is going to take that bed in the corner. If you think the wolf is likely to share than you best put your head in its jaws and be done with it!”
Dellara looks around the room and his eyes finally settle on Neil as he continues.
“I am offering Bruce McKean the same protection that I would offer to anyone in this crew! That said I think is time we punch back and remind Marcello who he is dealing with.”
“What do you have in mind?” Asks Lucifer, his eyes still linger on Neil.
“I want you to take Kevin and Donald, go to their turf and put two of his Capos in the ground. If our show of strength can be overwhelming than Marcello may think this war wouldn’t be cost effective. Lucifer that means we need to drop a lot of bodies, kill anyone you can. If you can make them disappear in the bayou all the better, if we litter the streets with bodies the law might be inclined to watch us closely. Until this matter is settled Bruce is to remain in hiding.”
Dellara stands up signaling an end to the meeting the rest of the men rise.
“Lucifer walk me out to the car I have a few things I want to discuss with you.”
17C, Neil Point of View:
Neil watches as Dellara and Lucifer leave the room, Neil is alone in the room apart from one other person. Neil walks over to the man who is still seated and leans against the table. Crossing his arms Neil looks down at the man, the glare from the light reflects off Neil’s glasses.
“Bennett I noticed you didn’t say anything during the meeting.” Says Neil.
Bennett is a numbers guy, he spent most of his time staring at the ledgers downstairs. Bennett is also soft spoken there for it is not unusual for him to be silent, but he didn’t speak at all. Usually he only stays quit when he is holding something back.
Neil looks down at Bennett.
“Bennett I stand by what I said one person to save the crew to save the rest, Marcello can’t be stopped Dellara is fooling himself.”
Bennett keeps his facial expression unchanged. He however does say two words that cause a smile to spread on Neil’s face.
Neil decides now is his chance to push his idea.
“You have the bosses ear make him see reason.”
Bennett shakes his head.
“I can do my best; the boy is well liked. It is gonna take an event of a catastrophic nature to get him to change his mind.”