Falling Beneath the Magnolia

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Back to Purdue Street.

Chapter 22. Back to Purdue Street.

22A, Bruce Point of View.

Mickey had syphoned the diesel using a rubber hose, he placed it into a dozen glass beer bottles they found in a trashcan. They were lurking in the shadows across from the Delmore shop. From where they were, the trio could hear the puppies barking from the pet shop. All signs of their damage from before the heist had been cleaned. The pet store even had gotten new stock as well as every window is fixed.

Mickey and Bruce watch from the shadows as Gary goes around the front of the boarding house. They observe as the bottle is tossed on the roof of the boarding house...

It crashes down with a bright spark. Gary slinks back into the shadows of the alley...

“You look different” Mutters Mickey.

“What are you talking about?”

“You got shot before me and twice, you looked like you been on the mend for several months, what happened?”

“You know how there is always weird shit going on in this city, just chalk it up to the benefit of that weirdness.”

“Fair enough, you got any pills on you?”

Bruce handed the pill bottle filled with his last five pills to Mickey.

“Keep them.” Says Bruce stupidly, starting to instantly regret his decision.

Bruce started to come down off the fog of the painkillers, he would still be fairly high all night. But keeping a slightly less cloudy mind is going to serve him better.

Gary played his part of the sneak well; the fire had spread on the roof of the boarding house and five other buildings. Then suddenly sounded and panic begins filling the darkened streets of Purdue Street. Bruce looked towards the Delmore shop, the two guards out front shout something into the shop. Half a dozen armed men run from the shop towards the fires. Soon another group of men exit the shop.

Gary had returned by then.

“Well Boys get your guns ready.”

The three of them withdrew their weapons...

Charging across the street the three of them slip into the shop, the downstairs is deserted. The three of them walk up the staircase.

Bruce had never entered the upstairs of the shop, there is a long hall leading to a room with its door open. Slipping down the hallway Gary peers into the room and singles them to follow. Bruce hears hushed voices; they had entered the apartment of the building.

There is a kitchen door to the right, a large couch in the along the wall, next to the couch is a shadowy hallway. In the center of the room is a young girl with blonde hair. She is bound to a chair and gagged, on her head a pair of large noise cancelling headphones.

Hearing voices causes them to have to hide. Bruce stands nervously behind the kitchen door, Mickey follows him into the kitchen, but Gary had to duck behind the couch.

The voices came from the shadowy part of the hallway and enter the main room with Mickey.

Bruce recognizes all the men gathered. Anger builds as he looks through the keyhole into the main room. Neil, and Bennett were with the younger Delmore boy, the boy still wore the wounds from his run in with Lucifer.

The couch that Gary hides behind is two feet from the wall and if you were sitting on the couch you would be able to see someone enter the apartment from the hall.

“Are you sure they won’t be able to get in?”

The Delmore boy’s voice sounds nervous. Neil calms him.

“Relax we have dozens of Marcello’s men along with half a dozen of yours on the street.”

“Five buildings are on fire that is no coincidence.”

“I never said it was boy, Albert’s on the roof and we have two men here. More of Marcello’s men are going to be here soon just relax son.”

There are footsteps heard coming from down the stairs. Bruce sees a man he recognizes enter the room a short while later. Burt Lineman, the man Marcello trusts with his casino walks with vigor. Trailing him is another Italian with a camera around his neck and an armful of newspapers.

As they get closer the men group into a semi-circle, the one with the newspapers is feet from the keyhole, Bruce can see the cover is dated for tomorrow, the first papers wouldn’t printed until 6:30, they still had 40 minutes until first print.

“Took you long enough!” Mutters Neil.

“Sorry we got caught up in that mess outside. I left three of my men to guard the outside to keep us from being disturbed, I had to send the rest to fight the blaze.”

“We were expecting Giambi?” It was Bennett who inquires.

“I am acting underboss; Giambi took a leave of absence.”

The sack holding Giambi’s not rotting head on Bruce’s belt could refute Lineman’s claim.

The one with the camera steps forward.

“Can she hear us through those headphones?”

“No, she can’t” replies Neil.

“Cut her bindings we are going to take five pictures worth of newspaper headlines, then I want you to finish her!”

Lineman explains.

“She is going to recognize you two anyways, we will have the McKean boy by morning and the Pale Death soon after him.”

Neil uses a box cutter to cut the tape around her hands and the head phones and eye mask off. The young girl looks terrified her legs shake as she rubs the rawness of her waists with her fingers.

“What do you want?” She trembles.

The high-pitched voice is made that much more childish due to her trembling.

“Stand up and take a picture with these newspapers” Orders Neil.

“The girl does as she is bid” Bennett had slipped up the stairs presumably to check on Albert who kept watch from the rooftop.

Gary had crept passed the couch during the excitement of the photo ruse. Bruce swears Gary moves like a panther, silent without fear of notice. Gary now hid in the shadowy part of the apartment, it turned out to be another stairwell, there is a second kitchen door that leads to this staircase.

Bruce hears Gary slip down the case, he walks back over to the other key hole.

They had just taken the last picture; Neil speaks in a softer voice to the girl.

“Alyssa? You know who I am right?”

She nods her head.

“You did a good job we are going to take you back to your father’s now.”

The look of fear on the girl’s face slightly disappears. She is still weary of trust but seeing a familiar face she has no choice but to hope for the best.

Gunshots come from the front of the building!

“What is that?” Shouts the Delmore boy he had pulled a large caliber rifle with an equally large magazine.

POP! POP!

The sounds of return gunfire begin to ring out, one after another. BANG! BANG!

A man in a suit runs into the room Bruce recognizes that it is one of the surviving members of the River Street Crew.

“There is thick white fog filling the street and only one gunman, the Pale Death is here!” Decree’s the scared shitless gang member.

Lineman draws his firearm.

“How many men did you have before I arrived.”

“11”

“20 something men will not be enough to hold him off! Take the girl to her father!”

Even in the face of death and fear, Lineman keeps up the ruse that Alyssa would live.

“Neil pulls on Alyssa’s hand and the girl follows.”

“Come on we need to follow them.” Whispers Mickey in Bruce’s ear.

The two of them had the hammers on their pistol’s knocked back. Bruce could hear the Delmore boy’s cries of panic, from the main room.

“We need to do something!” cries the boy.

Bruce continued down the staircase. He and Mickey ease the door open; they find themselves in a walled courtyard. They are careful to close the door gently. They inch towards the sound of Neil’s voice...

Kneeling with her head facing the wall, is the tremblingly body of Alyssa Dellara. Neil has a pistol cocked behind her head, hovering just above her ear. The volley of Gunshots from the front of the building are still sounding very close together, meaning that Lucifer’s assault is still under weigh.

But they needed to save her now...

Gary had the only suppressor, But Bruce couldn’t find him. Raising his pistol Bruce, takes aim, he waits maybe Gary would squeeze a round off. Bruce had to act! He saw Neil cock the hammer on his revolver! The girl bows her head weepily accepting her fate...

Squeezing the trigger never felt more righteous than it did now! It felt so good he did it two more times. Neil’s firearm drops to the ground as does his corpse. He had been killed before he hit the ground.

“What the fuck Bruce I had him!” Gary stood up from his hiding space.

He was so well hidden he had been three feet from Neil.

Gunshots from the roof cause them to dive for cover, the rounds strike at their scrambling feet! Gary picks up the girl and runs her across the courtyard, he falls to the ground, as he falls he gives the eighty-pound girl a shove!

Alyssa is launched across the payment over a pile of stacked-chopped wood! She slinks below the three-foot-high back stop. Gary crawls amid the hail of gunfire from the roof...

Getting eyes on the roof Bruce see’s the skinny figure of what he assumes is Albert firing down from the rooftop. To cover Gary, Bruce leans out from behind the motorcycle he desperately sought shelter behind.

He fires three rounds at the rooftop being forty feet away and with a height disadvantage Bruce’s gunshots on manage to strike the edge of the building missing. But still his effort allows Gary to crawl to a place to cover from the unending and relentless barrage!

Bruce see’s Mickey signaling for him to grab the girl. Bruce is the closest at seven feet. With one arm only available, he would have to holster his gun, he would surely have to grab the girl as she wouldn’t move on her own. Sprinting out from cover the three steps he takes are hard on his shoulder. The hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

Bullets strike at the ground...

Mickey waited until Bruce had his right arm draped around the girls waist before he fired towards Albert on the roof.

Mickey’s shots trace the building edge, unlike Bruce, Mickey fires three more shots and one of them even in the darkness finds a target.

Albert yelps in pain and staggers backwards as he is struck right under his kneecap. The scream is louder than the frontal assault taking place on the other side of the building. Bruce had made it to the doorway with the girl. There is only one way for them to go, that is up the staircase.

Gary and Mickey scramble to the door. Mickey enters the threshold; Gary still has three steps to go. Four rounds tear through his narrow Torso, his glasses become lopsided as he slumps to the ground in a bloody heap.

Loading his last magazine one-handed Bruce looks up at the staircase. He hears voices and keeps his weapon trained. Then he sees the half black face of the Delmore boy with a large rifle peering in shock down the stairs!

Bruce fires three times. The enclosed space of the staircase cause all their ears to painfully ring. Bruce starts up the stairs. He steps over the corpse of the Delmore boy, he blocks the entrance to the main room, and keeps the 1911 trained for danger. There is no sign of Lineman or the photographer.

Mickey comes up from the rear and leads the girl down the hall with Bruce facing the main room. That’s how they kept the girl safe, Bruce covered the rear, while Mickey covered point.

Bruce nearly shits himself when he hears shots coming from the point. He keeps the rear covered, then they pass a set of steps leading to the roof, they were bound for a bedroom along the wall that carried a fire escape.

He steps over the photographer explaining the gunshots from Mickey.

Bennett steps off the staircase just as they pass the body, he fires at Bruce first.

The desk jockey misses, the miss proves fatal for Bennett as he soaks up two rounds from Bruce’s 1911! Bruce turns around to address Mickey.

“It sounds like that are far less shots coming from the front, out that window, the alley will lead you to Coffee Lane, head west it leads to Decatur.”

“Where are you going?”

“Albert killed my best friend and nearly got my girl killed.”

“Revenge is fool’s gold; you can’t spend that currency on anything…”

“You and Dellara are wrong, revenge buys you one thing, closure! That turncoat just killed Gary, I should pay him back in kind! Pay him back by carving his lips from that crooked long face...”

Mickey looks Bruce up and down; he had a thick layer of sweat on his body. Bruce kneels down, the pain from his side gunshot wound is on the forefront, he hardly felt it in the last few hours. Bruce takes a small revolver from a holster on his ankle.

“Keep her safe, Alyssa take this if Mickey falls for any reason and someone grabs you. Squeeze this trigger twice and keep running until you get to Breeze Street!”

“Don’t worry Bruce I’ll take care of her!”

Nodding his head Bruce starts up the narrow stairs, the staircase levels out in a small attic there is a door open at the opposite end of the room. Sprinting out of the breech he is hit hard on the nose buy the butt of a rifle! Bruce crashes to the ground, the sack holding Giambi’s head falls from his waistband. Using his two feet he drop kicks a falling Albert in the chest knocking him off.

Bruce gets to his feet in turn, his head gushes blood from where the rifle but split him open.

“Shame to scar that pretty face, ain’t like you going to need it to stay pretty you won’t live out the night...” Mocks Albert.

Slightly fluster Bruce stands with his cock in his hand, his pistol is on the ground, but Albert had his still holstered, his only saving grace! Also, Bruce is pretty sure the rifle is out of ammo, or he would have shot him when he exited the attic.

“Yeah I guess you think you are pretty smart.”

Bruce’s hand reaches for his back pocket, Albert must think Bruce had a gun hidden because he still hadn’t raised the rifle. He must definitely be out of ammo, looking at Albert’s leg bleeding Bruce smiles.

“You can barely stand”

Bruce starts to pace towards him. Closing the gap, his hand feels the smoothness of his pearl handled switchblade.

“I have been walking around in this pain for a while thanks to you! All because you felt under paid, well skid mark looks like the cancer ends here!”

Bruce’s vision narrow he has formed a murderous tunnel vision, he only sees Albert. He longed to feel the warmth of his blood upon his hands, the feeling of his bodily fluids bursting out of him. His pistol is just at his feet but fuck it!

He doesn’t notice the white fog on the rooftop or the sound of feet landing on a hard surface. The neighboring buildings all tower over the three-story shop…

Then as he presses the button Bruce feels again like the knife is moving his hand. Before the blade pierces Alberts heart, Albert’s gun clears the holster but its, too little too late…

Albert’s surprised look makes Bruce smile for a moment then before his knife enters Albert’s heart, inches way, two inches into the skin a trickle of blood seeps down Albert’s nose.

Unfortunately, Bruce sees why! Looming half a foot taller than he, and ghastlier and more ghoulish than ever before the Pale Death stands behind Albert.

Albert drops to his knees; Bruce’s eyes are only for the evil look of terror sent his way. Staring into the scariest pair of eyes. Blued flamed of hell. Bruce doesn’t know how his knife hand is moving he had started to feel the warm flow of piss running down his leg as his right foot twitches in fear.

Lucifer does lower his blade, only to draw is stainless steel 1911, that is how then and there Bruce knew that the Grim Reaper of Bruce Street had come for him…

Bruce couldn’t stop his knees from shaking, he stood against dozens of men over the years. He had faced fear and uncertainty all night. But never had he felt this kind of terror and lack of control, this feeling that plagued him could bring him begging to his knees if he wasn’t experienced with death.

It is as if the fear had gripped his entire body in a blanket of palsied paralysis, meaning the only thing moving on his body where his shaking knees!

“Where did you get that knife?” rasps the terrible voice of Lucifer. Glaring at his uncontrollable hand holding the knife in place.

Bruce found his voice…

“It was given to me.” His voice sounds small, no it sounds weak.

“Then you have always been one of them, this will make it easier, this isn’t how I wanted it to go, you were going to die. Dellara gave me the green light but seeing that you’re an Inspector, I can not allow you to report my movements to them.”

“Who’s them? What inspector? I don’t know who you are talking about. I have had this annoying bitch popping up at random times trying to get me to live up to this destiny, I haven’t worked for anyone other than Dellara.”

“Why then did I sense a Soul Hound at the docks and days earlier you were asking me about his warehouse on the docks.”

“I told you this woman keeps showing up out of nowhere, I had just killed Giambi, he gave up the location for the warehouse. She showed up as I walked towards it and sort of healed my wounds to make it easier to move. Inside the warehouse he had more than a dozen of those Albino children everyone keeps using. I ended up having to force a grenade down the monsters throat…

“Are you with them?”

“Why would I rescue Dellara’s daughter if I didn’t? Wouldn’t I have skipped town and cut my losses after fighting the monster?”

Lucifer lowers the weapon; Bruce breathes a sigh of relief.

“I am not going to die?” Bruce said it as a matter of fact although Lucifer answered it anyways.

“I didn’t say you would live, I told you once whether by my hand or someone else’s, death comes for us all.”

A look of concern forms on Bruce’s face and Bruce can swear that Lucifer smiled but whatever distortion his face held it is gone as he continues his statement.

“You will die, and you will die tonight, you weren’t the only one tonight to take the head of someone important, the head I have is going to be instrumental in your death.

Lucifer holds the head of someone Bruce did not know!

Even from that distance Bruce felt an unnatural warm wind flash across his cold red cheeks, somehow he could feel the magic contained in the severed head...

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