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Thread: Deadly Dame -- 1920s Gangsters & Booze

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    Deadly Dame -- 1920s Gangsters & Booze

    “Look, all I’m saying is there was a tiny misunderstanding between us,” I said, relaxed, nonchalant. “If you was to allow, we’d like to do a week’s worth of free shipments as a token of good faith.”

    McCaughley and his dame eyed me suspiciously the whole time I was there. I might as well been talking to inquisitors. A lion with his kill smacked of more ease. I didn’t even wanna be here. But what the Boss says, goes.

    His girl was deadly. Those looks could kill the already dead and buried. A dirty blonde named Minx. Prob’ly not her real name. But it fit. I’d imagine there wasn’t one guy in the city who wouldn’t want to wear her.

    The Irishman, rather than prolong his insultory silence, spoke. “The thing is, Mr. Byrne, my lads are scrupulous when it comes to orders. They don’t usually get ‘em wrong. Now I know your guys said their order was smaller, and I don’t assume your boss is the type to cut corners, what with his booming business, but it reeks of duplicity to me that your gang don’t want to spend dough the same week one of your warehouses catches fire.”

    This McCaughley played difficult, which was fine. I was used to that. “Let me be frank with you,” I said, sounding believably polite. “Yes, we had a setback last week and the boss felt a bind. But things were communicated, just like they always are. Now, whose to say someone didn’t hear the wrong thing? Or write down the wrong order? Or mix up ours with someone else’s? All I’m saying is that we are an organization that takes its business transactions seriously, just like yourself. Which is why, in addition to continuing buying booze from you, we will continue to deliver, albeit free of charge and debt, off the books for one full week.”

    I paused, holding out my arms in a gesture of finality. “From then on, business should continue as usual, with special attention, I might add, to accurate ordering.”

    After such a praiseworthy performance, I was still not quite happy with it. I didn’t like to talk. And I think McCaughley knew that. Most people did. Irony I guess they call it—why boss made me liaison with toughs who’d just as shoot another hole in your face as hear another goddamn sentence.

    Bemused, I looked over to Minx. She was laughing. Not at some freezing, unfashionable passerby outside the window. But at me. And I don’t take too kind to being laughed at. Even if you are gorgeous.

    “Some sermon, huh Riley?” Her grin was interrupted by a puff on her cigarette extension thing. God forbid you actually felt the vice in your gloved hands. What’s the difference? The ash is gonna fall all the same. And the smoke is still gonna make you cough after too many.

    McCaughley beamed like his girl, as if they were both in on some joke I didn’t get. Oh I got it. It just wasn’t all that funny to me. You see, I’d been polite and diplomatic. And here they were. A mock to me was a mock to my Boss. And the two of us saw eye to eye when it came to mockery. You tease a couple of guard dogs, you don’t get bit, you get shredded. Like a tailor cutting the fringe off a fine suit. Only, it ain’t as respectable like.

    “Methinks you tell your boss to find business elsewhere,” McCaughley said as he lit a smoke, not weighing in on the enormity of his words.

    “Thought you’d say that.” I broke the facade of platitudes. “That’s why to rectify this impasse, I was authorized to say that we’d order double this week as our final offer, in addition to the free shipments of your booze.

    McCaughley scratched his face, which meant he had interest in the proposal.

    “Don’t take it,” Minx darted. “We have more clients waiting in line. Enough that don’t cause hassle, and would pay more.”

    “That may be, miss, but are they as loyal as us?” I continued to push the envelope. This woman was a fighter. McCaughley had had her around for quite awhile now. He was quiet, considering.

    “Loyalty?! Don’t spill that rubbish!” She was relentless, continuing in her tirade. “Capone has been under-the-tabling just about everyone. And those that figure it out, and do something, usually don’t come out alive.”

    That wasn’t half the story, but whatever. She had a right to her opinion I guess. I tried to stay calm. I was about to speak when McCaughley spoke up in my stead.

    “Now, Minx. Let’s not upset our partners,” he said, putting out his fresh cig. “I think we can find the good faith you mentioned with addition of the extra purchases. Makes me think your boss knows how to recompense when it’s due.”

    “Like hell!” Minx pulled a pistol from her small purse. Given her anger, I knew she was trigger-happy. So I dove as the pistol popped breaking the glass of one of the bar’s windows.

    Fortunately for me, before I fired one through her kneecap, McCaughley had grabbed the gun away before she could aim once more.

    “What in the ****e?!” McCaughley looked genuinely bewildered. “You can’t just go shootin’ at Mr. Byrne!! Do you know who he is?”

    And then all was revealed.

    “Yeah, I know who he is!” She sobbed. “He killed my brother, Sam. He deserves to die!”

    “For God’s sake, get her out of here! Now!!” McCaughley screamed at his henchman who escorted her to the back dining room.

    I rose, picking up my crumpled fedora. I replaced my gun in my coat and began straightening out my cap. A business associate had to look good.

    “I had no idea, Mr. Byrne. Rest assured, I will have a talk with her. Your boss makes a generous offer. After all, this is business, and one can’t decline on offers that will ensure that business continue and flourish.”

    “I did not know she even had a brother…I do know that my boss will be glad to hear this news.”

    “People in our line of work make enemies everywhere. Sometimes the city isn’t as large as we think. She just needs a talking too, that’s all. I trust Mr. Capone needn’t know of shots fired?”

    “Nah, ancient history,” I said as I shook the man’s hand, exited the bar, and met my co-workers in the alley down the street. Luckily, Minx carried a small caliber, otherwise my pals might’ve heard.

  2. #2
    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Haven't had time to do more than skim these, but I can offer the suggestion that "dialect" is best used in moderation as if a condiment, where here it's way overdone. Don't try so hard that the writing overcomes the story.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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