Story by Nick Swain
Illustration by Toe Keen
“Look at this joint.” said Frank Scarlin, gesturing with his glass hand to the barren floors of the Cabanga Club. The tables were empty and so was the dance-floor. In place of a band, an old phonograph was set up by the bar; from the record, a saxophone player was wailing away on top of a slick jazz jive. It was Friday night, and in the ten years he’d been running the place Frank had never closed early on a Friday night. Hell, he didn’t even close on Saint Patrick’s Day. But tonight was different.
“Yea, well, what’re you gonna do?” Mike Finley shrugged from his stool on the other side of the bar. He glanced at the clock and noticed it was 10:17 pm. “You don’t want one of your patrons getting shot. Then it’d really be game over.”
Frank topped-off Mike’s glass with some more of the good whiskey he kept specially. “This business is no good, Mikey. You make folks leave for no good-stated reason, on a Friday night of all nights; it puts you in a disreputable position amongst the people.”
Again, Mike shrugged, “Ah, if the papers couldn’t do that how’re a couple ’a dozen club-bugs gonna?”
“Vincetti… that no-good, droopy-eyed whop… I’ll tell you, Mikey. He might’ve sent Murray running with his thumb in his mouth, but I ain’t ever going out like that! There’s at least one Irishman left standing on this side of town who’s not scared of that cheap gun.”
“I know, Frank. I know.” Mike spoke tonelessly. He’d heard all this before.
“Yea well, Vincetti knows, too. I made that clear enough this afternoon. That hot-headed weasel will have somebody over here in a flash. Believe me. Seen it before.”
“I know it, Frank.”
“You’re a good fella, Mikey. Last of a kind. All the other boys scattered like rats, as though they’d never heard machine guns before!”
Frank poured more liquor in his glass and then in Mikes, though neither was near empty. He was smoking a lot of cigarettes too; he’d finished his own pack and now he was bumming off Mike. But Mike was happy to oblige. He’d been working for Frank since the start of his career, and it troubled him a bit to see him so unnerved now; though he disguised it well enough with his even speaking. He did a lot of speaking these days. A lot of reminiscing. Mike remembered a time when Frank Scarlin didn’t have to speak a word to make his point understood; he’d just show the gun under his arm and that point would get across. That was how he’d taken over the Northside; but that had been many years ago. Maybe Frank was worried history would repeat itself – but with him in another role.
Mike read the clock: 10:20 pm.
“You know, Frank… This deal with Vincetti is different. Most of the Southside is his now. You remember the last guy to do something like that?” he said humorously.
Frank waved him off. “Ah things are different now. Most guys’ve been softened up. Why do you think it took this long for him to come for me? He went for all the yellow-belly’s first. He knows what he’ll get with me, that’s why he’ll try for tonight.” Frank went on talking. It gave him something else to think about. “We’ve faced worse before. Christ! You remember a little thing called, Prohibition? We fought a hundred Vincetti’s then!”
Mike grinned and drank his drink. “There were a lot more of us then: Fat Boy Ed, Spooky Sam, Larry the Hound. You remember that crazy bastard?”
“Goodfella. Didn’t deserve to die on the curb like that. If we still had those guys – or even just Larry, we wouldn’t be here waiting for some mug to come in blasting.
“Those sure were the days.”
Franks words had begun to slur after his fourth drink. He sounded as tired as he looked. Harried, puffy bags sagged from under his narrowed eyes, and the grey wings above his ears seemed to be reaching farther across his scalp. It wasn’t just age catching up with Frank, or even just this business tonight, Mike thought. It’s been a long time coming, at least a year; Frank had had a rough one. First his younger brother died in a “drowning accident” down in Florida – though Frank never believed that line about “accident”.
And then there was that business with his woman. After seven years of search-warrants, drive-bys on each of their homes, and numerous jail sentences – she’d finally left him after public opinion shifted, and it seemed that Vincetti would be the one coming out of the turf war on top.
And if that weren’t enough, there was a rumor circulating that the DA was pushing for maximum sentencing on a pending weapons charge Frank had picked up more than two years ago. But that didn’t scare Frank; the tough old bastard had been through it all before. He knew what business like this always comes down to, and he’d known luck always had a little something to do with his prospering in a hostile environment. Maybe all those things were why he was so determined to stick around and shoot it out. He was right about one thing: in the old days, they wouldn’t be sitting there, waiting. Frank would have rounded up the boys, stuck a Tommy gun with a hundred-round drum in each of their hands, and headed over to Vincetti’s joint. And they would have killed everyone in there.
Now Frank was getting too old for that. Not to mention he didn’t exactly run a mob anymore. But Frank Scarlin was a solider, and he’d rather go out on his own terms than surrender.
Which was why it had all come down to this.
“We ran it all in those days, Mikey. All of it…”
They had; they had run the whole show and had their hands in every racket the city had to offer. But things change: wars are fought, laws are repealed, and young hoods turn into trigger happy, robber baron captains of industry. And old men like them outlive their friends; most of who died in their thirties from a sudden case of lead poisoning. But he and Frank were still kicking. And though – as a gun hand – he knew he was pretty lucky himself, he knew what a rarity it was for someone like Frank to have thrived this long; a man reaching into his fifties, sitting on top of a long-standing illicit empire in a town packed with ambitious young-guns.
It shouldn’t have to end like this, Mike thought. Not while there’s still time.
“You know, Frank… there’s a difference between running away and stepping down. Presidents do it all the time.”
Frank paused before the glass could reach his lips and said, “What’re you getting at Mikey?”
“All I’m saying is… maybe give it some time. Think about things. Like if this is all really worth it. You’ve gotta have enough dough to last a second lifetime. Retirement can’t be all that bad. You were always talking about deep sea fishing.”
Frank stirred his glass pensively. “And what would you do if I wasn’t around, Mikey?”
“I’ll be alright.”
“You ever known me to back down from a fight, Mikey?”
He wasn’t biting. “No Frank.”
“Do you know how many times I’ve been through this before, Mikey? ‘Cause I sure don’t! I quit counting. There’s a reason I’m still here…”
“I know, Frank.” He was going in circles now.
“… when Cornwick wanted to be a judge, who made that happen? Now he’s practically mayor! When Dillinger came to the city to hide-out from the G-men, who’d he come to? Frank Scarlin’s mob. That’s who!
“You don’t really think that runt Vincetti is different, do you?”
Mike shrugged aloofly. “Maybe he isn’t, but his influence is. Lot of contacts. Not just underworld’s either.”
“Now look here, Mikey. If you want out of this, now’s the time. You can go right ahead and out that door. But I’m staying. I learned a long time ago that if you wanna keep what you got in this world, you’ve gotta fight for it. Always.
“And I’ll tell you this much Mikey… I’d rather die right here behind this bar in my own club, than in some boathouse down on The Keys. This is the way it has to be Mikey. This is the way it was always going to be.”
Mike nodded understandingly. “Yea. I know, Frank. Pour me another, would you?”
He eyed the clock.
The stranger came in six minutes later. One man, tall and unfamiliar, with a shallow face and firm, evil eyes. He was wearing a grey-tweed overcoat with every single button done-up, and a dark-hat to go with it. He ambled in slowly, almost to the beat of the coolly-played tune sounding subtly from the horn in front of the bar. His hands were out of his pockets and at his side – which was the only reason he was still moving at all.
As he started down the stairs and into the room, Mike could hear something blunt – and no doubt made of steel – being shifted on the other side of the bar; where Frank stood with his hands out of sight.
The stranger parked himself at the end of the bar without so much as glancing at either man. Then he spoke a single word. An order: “Whiskey.”
Mike answered him. “Joints closed, pal…”
Frank raised his hand and silenced Mike, then with his other hand still out of sight, poured a shot of Irish whiskey for the stranger and slid it down the bar.
The stranger caught it, then stared into the glass, indifferent as to whether it contained ‘shine from somebody’s tub or a shot from the fountain of youth. He tipped the glass and the drink was gone.
Mike watched curiously. Cautiously. Waiting.
The stranger removed a cigarette tucked in his ear and struck a match against the bar; igniting it, he let the cloud of smoke out with a blast and shifted his unfeeling eyes over his hunched shoulder. He quickly and silently analyzed them both, settled on Frank, and spoke.
“You know why I’m here.” It wasn’t a question.
Frank held the stranger’s gaze and answered: “Yea. I know why you’re here.
The strangers’ eyes went back to the bar, looking into his empty glass as though there were something interesting about its transparent, blurred bottom. “Then you know who sent me.”
“Yea, I know why you’re here and who sent you.”
“You wanna hear what he has to say?” The stranger asked.
“It’s your breath, buddy.” That sound of steel grazing wood came faintly from the bar again.
“Your friend says that it was a good try… but that you’re all washed up… and that after this little bit of business here, it’s all over for you… he says that you been runnin’ things so long, that it’ll be good for you to get some rest… says that where he’s sendin’ you… you’ll be gettin’ a whole lot of it…”
Frank was nodding and smirking; as though these subtle threats were too banal to be taken seriously. “That’s a lot of fancy talk from you and your friend, fella.”
“He said it was important to him that you heard that,” The stranger spoke noncommittally. “Said you should hear it for yourself before you’re gone.”
“Yea? Well what if I was to say that your friends playin’ a tune I’ve heard before, and that all the fancy jazz in the world ain’t enough to shake me.”
The stranger showed the first sign of humor; a crooked grin that somehow made him look more threatening. “Wouldn’t make any difference to me. I’m just the delivery man.”
Mike looked to Frank then and saw he was smiling right back down the bar. “Then how’s about you cut it with the cute stuff… and get with the delivering.”
Mike sat at his stool, watching this all transpire silently; it was all he could do.
The stranger took a final drag of his cigarette and then let the butt fall into his glass; the extinguished cherry hissed while smoke poured from the stranger’s nostrils and he spoke, “Whatever you say, Big Man.” He turned back to them, and using his right hand, went reaching inside of his coat.
And then Frank’s eyes went black with panicked determination, and that was when the sawed-off shotgun sprung from below the bar; Mike hadn’t expected to see that.
Frank squeezed both triggers, and the force of both altered-barrels sent the stranger tumbling clumsily from his stool and several feet backwards. Bits of grey-fabric infused with blood and gore burst from the man’s torso and sprayed in odd-spots all over the bar. As he did the dead-man dance, the stranger’s hand was still buried deep inside of his overcoat; it must have stuck between the row of done-up buttons.
After briefly and violently staggering across the floor, the stranger finally collapsed face-up by the phonograph; the needle had caught in a crack of a groove in the record, and the last few keys of a solemn piano solo hiccupped every few seconds before repeating. The stranger’s cloudy, hollowed eyes emphasized the first real sign of emotion in death: Surprise.
Now the only thing smoking were the short barrels of the sawed-off in Frank’s hands.
Mikes eyes kept moving from the dead stranger in the corner, to the blank, enigmatic expression Frank held as he gazed uncertainly ahead.
He’s thinking the same thing as me, Mike thought. He’s thinking that that was too easy. That no one would come into the Cabanga Club and try to croak Frank Scarlin like that. And what could I say? He’d be right.
No one was that stupid.
But after a minute, the shotgun dropped on the bar-top with a resounding thud, and Frank let out a sigh. “Well… that’s that then.” Mike waited, but he didn’t say anything else.
Instead he lit a cigarette and went around the bar and over to where the stranger lay; careful not to step on him, he lifted the needle from the record without selecting another song.
The Cabanga Club was quieter than it had been in all its existence.
It was 10:34 pm.
By 10:45 pm the cops were there. Frank and Mike had spent the short amount of time discussing what to do with the body; Frank had wanted to stuff it in the trunk and then drop it off on Valentine Ave in front of Vincetti’s place. Maybe even pin a carnation on the stranger’s lapel so that there’d be no doubt in Vincetti’s peanut-sized brain who’d left him the present.
Mike said he liked the idea, but that it was a sure way of getting the heat on both mobs; leaving some slain gangsters corpse in the middle of the street always played out big in the papers, which in turn riled up the police and brought the crack-down on everyone.
He finally convinced Frank that it was a clear-case of self-defense, and that even just the influence he used to have in the precinct would be enough to keep him out of the jailhouse for it. It’d be a sure way of getting word to Vincetti as well; some of those cops talked more than a Christian woman at a temperance meeting.
But before either man could even look to the phone, the front doors were being flung open. Mike vaguely caught Frank reaching under his arm for a pistol that wasn’t there, thinking it must’ve been someone who’d come to finish the job.
It was the cops.
They came busting in like it was a small raid. There were six or seven uniforms that spread out in separate directions of the club, as the lone detective ambled to the center of the room; stopping next to the body.
“What do we have here, boys?” the detective asked with his hands placidly stuffed in his pockets, while his hardened, inquiring eyes demanded answers. Frank and Mike recognized the detective as Lieutenant Conrad. And neither could’ve been more displeased to see him. “Got an anonymous tip that somebody’d been killed in the illustrious Cabanga Club. Looks like they were onto something,” he nodded to the stranger on the floor.
“I was just about to call you guys,” Frank said. He went on and told Conrad everything from the point the stranger came in and started making laconic threats to when he drew on him. The entire time he explained, Conrad kept his mouth shut and his eyes on the stranger; as though the man might wake up and give up his side of the story.
“That it?” Conrad asked when Frank was finished. “He reached inside of his coat and you shot him?”
“Don’t go playing dumb with me, Conrad! You know as well as anyone who’s gunning for me. I closed the joint down because of it; what do you think this fella was doing here, trying to score a dance? Mikey was here for the whole thing.”
Conrad looked to Mike Finley for the first time. “That how it was?”
“Yea that’s how it was. Guy went reaching into his coat first. You can see his hand’s still inside it.”
Conrad grunted, unconvinced. “Well if it’s the way you boys say it is then it should be easy enough to find out.” He tugged gently at the knees of his trousers and bent over the dead man. Then he pulled the arm from the coat. Dropping the limp arm and tipping his hat, he peered up at Frank with a thin, amused smirk.
A thick envelope had dragged halfway out of the coat by the stranger’s lifeless fingers.
As Frank’s eyes widened with incredulity and he began backing up to the bar, Lt. Conrad took the envelope and examined its front. “We got a problem here, Frank.”
Frank said nothing. He’d backed into the bar-counter and grasped its edges, as though for support.
“Can you read, Frank?” Conrad asked facetiously. “Sure, you can. Why don’t you take a look at what this says.” He held out the front of the envelope then. It read in deliberate, bold letters:
TO: FRANK SCARLIN
9156 WINDSOR AVE
THE CABANGA CLUB
“No…” Frank finally muttered to no one in particular. His eyes hadn’t left the stranger; he was looking at the corpse the way a naive child looks at a magician who has just made a rabbit appear from inside the cap he was wearing. Except this rabbit might’ve been rabid.
“It’s not lookin’ good, Frank.” Conrad opened the envelope then, and his slight grin advanced to a full-blown cackle. “Jesus, Frank! It just keeps comin’ don’t it?”
“What’re you saying?” Mike spoke up.
Conrad ignored him and went on with Frank. “Wanna guess what’s in here? No?
“There’s dope in here, Frank. A nice chunk of it. Cute little flower too; that means something to you, don’t it, Frank? You in the dope racket now?”
“What is this?” Frank said, coming back to actuality. “This mug came in here to kill me! He said so! You heard what Mikey said…”
Conrad cut in impatiently: “Mikey said he reached inside his coat and you shot him; you said it too. And I believe that’s exactly what happened. You know what that is? A witness statement and a confession. You really stepped in it this time, Frank. Dope and murder doesn’t play out so well in court. I don’t think Cornwick’ll even be able to help you now.”
“You son of a bitch! You sons ’a bitches, you’re a part of this, ain’t you? This whole set-up stinks and you’re one of the reasons why… anonymous tip my ass!”
Conrad frowned momentarily, then tucked the envelope in his own jacket and went back to grinning. “Maybe you can get a lawyer to make that sound better for you; clean it up a little. Then maybe they won’t send you to ride the lightening… maybe you’ll get off with life-without.
“Ok boys.” He nodded.
The uniforms that had silently surrounded them advanced. Some had their cuffs out, while the others held their clubs; one approached with his palm resting on the butt of a holstered .38 special.
As they encroached, Frank shook his head slowly. “Think you can take Frank Scarlin, huh? Think you can give Frank the set-up like some dumb cluck patsy, and he’ll just go quietly with you to stir, huh? Not on your life, screw… not on your life!”
He scooped the shotgun from the bar and jerked back both its hammers. With every cop around him drawing their own weapons, and with both barrels aimed straight ahead on Conrad, Frank squeezed the first trigger.
There was an audible click as Frank realized he was trying to fire an empty cartridge; for good measure, he squeezed the other trigger, and a second, dreadfully confirming click sounded out.
He shut his eyes and waited, but the cops didn’t shoot; even worse, a few were sniggering at him.
Conrad was one of them. “You’re just determined to dig your own grave, ain’t you? You not only drove the nails into your own coffin… now you’ve gone and shoved the dirt back into your open grave…
“They’re gonna bury you alive, Frank. But look at it this way… big mob boss like you, all this on top of your priors… you might’ve earned yourself a ticket to Alcatraz… that’d give you some finally limelight, wouldn’t it? Public loves reading about the latest contribution to The Rock.
“What’re you ladies waitin’ for?”
The closest uniform reached for Frank and he swung the sawed-off butt of the shotgun at him. But Frank moved too slowly, and the cop ducked the blow and gave him a good whack in the stomach with his billy club. Frank dropped to all fours and retched out most of the fine liquor he’d consumed that evening. As the other police began pulling him to his feet, he fought for coherency; mouthing the same silent word over and over. Until finally screaming: “NO! NO! NO!”
Mike leaped to his feet, getting off his stool for the first time since sitting in it.
Conrad raised one hand in a halting gesture and used the other to brush back his jacket, exposing the butt of his own revolver. “Keep still Finley, I want your mitts where I can see them. You know the score, don’t go gettin’ conscientious; we couldn’t have that now. Delve into contrition on your own time.”
Mike kept still. Yea, he knew the score.
“NO! NO!” Frank was writhing and hollering as the cops dragged him along to the doors. He’d gathered enough of his strength back, and managed to free one of his arms long enough to strike one of the officers hard enough to knock off his cap.
The cop held his nose and drew back at the feel of blood. “My nose… you broke my nose… you lousy old crook, you broke my damn nose!”
“So, what’re you waitin’ for, let him have it,” encouraged Conrad. “Just hurry up and get him in the car while you’re doin’ it!”
The bloodied cop gave the restrained mobster a good jab to his already tender gut, and Frank retched for a second time; some of it onto the cop’s shoes.
“My fucking shoes!” the cop took a blackjack from his belt quick as he could, and put everything he had into a right-hook meant for the side of Frank’s head.
“Whoa, whoa, Russ!” one of the other cops tried to avert the blow by clutching at the swinging badges sleeve, but all he did was tug it a few inches lower. The blunt, leather-bound instrument clashed with Frank’s jaw, and the man went limp in their arms.
Mike started forward and Conrad produced his pistol; not aiming it, just taking it out and then holding it by his pants leg. “Knock it off. And you!” he turned back to the uniforms, “Cut that shit out and get him to the car before we got two dead bodies.”
Frank was dragged out of The Cabanga Club then; broken-jawed, and with his feet trailing limply. His well-polished shoes gave off an ominous, minute screech as they scuffed against the tile. He didn’t look conscious.
Mike knew that was the last time he’d ever see Frank Scarlin.
Now it was just Mike and Conrad. There was a silence between them, and Mike noticed the Lieutenant was still holding the revolver by his side. A minute later two men in white came in hauling a stretcher; they’d come for the stranger. Before they were too close, Conrad holstered his pistol and spoke: “You have any idea how lucky you are, Finley? I mean really?”
“Yea,” Mike responded noncommittally. “I feel real lucky right now.”
“You are. And it ain’t me you got to thank for it.”
The medics settled by the stranger and set the stretcher down; being careful not to step in the small pool of blood that had accumulated there.
“Don’t hang around too long. Clubs closed. Least for now.
“See you around, Mikey.” Conrad turned and sauntered out of the Cabanga then.
Mike poured the last of the whiskey from the bottle he and Frank had been drinking from, and slugged it down in one warming gulp. The men in white were carrying the stranger out now. A white sheet, already flush in its middle, had been draped over the body, but a limp left hand flopped out once lifted. Mike watched, sickened, as they corrected this and went out of the Cabanga’s doors. He knew Conrad would be back soon as he was sure Frank was nice and snug in his new jail cell. He’d bring a couple dozen bulls back with him, along with reporters and cameramen. He’d let them take pictures of whatever they wanted, now that the body and Frank were out of the picture; let ‘em play it big in the paper; potential judges read papers.
Mike wanted out of there before any of that started. There was just one quick thing.
He went into a back corridor of the club that took him straight into what used to be Frank Scarlin’s office. He took the telephone from the desk and spun the dial, telling the operator exactly who he wanted.
That moment of ringing was surreal. It wasn’t that enough time passed for there to be many rings, but that each ring itself seemed prolonged and deeply resound.
And then there was a voice; thick and guttural, unfriendly even in its welcoming.
For a second Mike didn’t speak, and the voice on the other end didn’t make any inquires; there was only the hum of an active line. And then Mike spoke. “Yea. Yea, it’s me. It’s done… they just took him…”
“But there was a problem. I told you no rough stuff, that was the whole point of this thing. Conrad damned near let one of those screws kill him.”
“I got no control over what those bulls do. The only one on my take was Conrad, so if they gave him the works it was their own doin’, not mine. Don’t forget, Mikey… this whole thing was your idea.”
“Yea, but the whole point was so he wouldn’t get killed. Shit, he practically had a heart attack when they pulled that skag out of that fella’s jacket. He was just supposed to get pinched for the set-up, not get beat to death on the spot.”
“Like I said. Not me, Mikey. Sometimes… things just happen.”
“Yea, well he wasn’t as slow on the get-up as we thought he’d be. Just before Johnny-law cracked his jaw, he was hollarin’ how the whole thing reeked of a frame-up, and that he knew Conrad was in on it. He’ll keep up with that story you know?”
“So, what? Let him. How many crazy old mugs go in there sayin’ the same thing? He won’t be any different. It’s already done, Mikey Me Boy (he gave a flippant Irish accent for that one). Come on over. I got your dough.”
“One more thing.”
“Who was he?”
“Who?… oh,” there was some laughter on the line then. “Does it really matter?”
“No. I guess not.”
“And like I said, Mikey. Don’t go feeling bad ‘bout all this. He was gonna get it one way or the other. If it weren’t for you and that idea ‘bout sendin’ him up the river, and the… availability of a chiselin’ mug lookin’ for a way out of what he had comin’, Frank’d just be lyin’ on the slab.”
“Yea. I know.”
“Come on over, Mikey. I’m waitin’ for ya.” The line went dead then.
Mike put the phone back, grabbed his hat and coat, and went for the Cabanga’s back door. It came out to an alley by Vista Ave. He was sure he’d be able to catch a taxi from there. Keeping on, he took a finally look over his shoulder, knowing that no matter what, he’d never set foot back in the Cabanga. Leaving the lights on, he went out the door.
He staggered out into the alley. That last drink had taken hold of him and he was feeling pretty rotten.
Not as rotten as Frank’s feelin’ right about now, he thought.
But he pushed these thoughts away. It was too late for any of that. Did he feel sorry for Frank? Sure, he did. He’d known Frank his whole life. Only Frank was going to lose the war, and anyone with him was going to lose, too. The streets knew it; his common-law wife had known it; and worse yet Vincetti knew it.
Mike knew Vincetti meant exactly what he’d said about that business of killing Frank; even Frank had known that. Which was why Mike had gone to Vincetti with the set-up. Why should Frank have to die so violently, like the rest of their friends? And why should Mike have to go along with him for the downhill caper. Stubborn old Frank. If Mike was such a bad guy, why would he have tried talking Frank out of it, even in those final moments? But no, kingpin Frank wouldn’t have it. Prison would be better for him. Everyone knew Frank Scarlin, he’d be treated like a movie star by all the other inmates for the remainder of his days; a retirement community for gangsters. Surely, that was better than being cut down by machine guns the second you open your front door and greet the world – which was what Vincetti had planned for him before Mike’s idea. So, if anything. Mike saved Frank.
It was just after 11:00pm when Mike Finley started up the Avenue, where’d he’d hail a cab to drive him to the Southside of town. It had rained since he was in the Cabanga, and he slushed his way through the puddles in the sidewalk, holding his collar up and his hat-brim low; combating the steady breeze whisking head-on. The dark, wet street’s only offering of light was from an occasional flickering street lamp and the sporadic winking of a hotel sign. Several cabs passed, all either occupied or off duty. It didn’t matter, on this street, on a Friday; it was only a matter of time before one came and picked him up. But he kind of hoped it wouldn’t… or maybe not that it wouldn’t, but that it would take its time finding him, and the festering feeling rattling around in his gut would dissipate. For no real reason that he could figure, he’d gone from feeling guilty, to just plain scared. But not for Frank; Frank was safe in his cell, or a jail hospital bed. He was scared for himself. He was about to stroll right into the office of a man who’d thought nothing more of murdering Frank than he would running down a scurrying possum that couldn’t get out of the road quick enough for him. But they’d had a deal.
…he and Frank had always had a deal, too…
What was he going to do?… Not get the dough he had coming to him?…
It would almost be for nothing then.
Mike Finley sauntered down the Avenue, seeing cabs, but not hailing them. Just thinking about hailing them, and how when he eventually did catch one that would take him where he was going, there was always that chance he’d never hail another.
— ♦♦♦ —
Latta has written an interesting mix of war and the supernatural. There was The Green Bat, Gargantuan, Swiftcurrent, The Amazing Ferrelli, The Revolutionary. And, of course, Owl-Eye and Le bûcheron. Some called Canada home, some America. Originally a Masque off-shoot of the elite joint U.S.-Canada 1st Special Service Force some dubbed the Devil’s Brigade — they had evolved into their own unit. To enemies and allies alike they were: Lucifer’s Legion. Read of their latest mission. For some of them…it would be their last. War truly is Hell.