Top Image: Concrete and Chains by Mark Molnar, 2013 © Fantasy Flight Games
Shortly after we arrived in the city, the word went out that we were to meet up with our new boss at a boathouse out by the riverside early the next morning.
There was six of us there that morning. Our new boss, Gregory Bamonte sat behind his desk, looking a little more under the squeeze than his slick reputation would’a previously indicated. See, Bamonte had a reputation for not lookin’ too close at folks. If you could do a job, he’d give it to ya’, no matter your race, color or creed.
The boss’s right-hand man, Whistler, was also in attendance, lookin’ on, quiet-like, but with a mean look in his eye.
Then there was us. Mitchell Fellweather, a veteran of the war that hadn’t quite managed to put the pieces back together after Verdunnes. He had a bit of a cloudy manner and didn’t talk much, but that don’t bother me none. He stood off to the ways a bit, fiddlin’ with the bayonet of his rifle.
Next to him was Doris Howard, our “Girl Friday”, our “Operator.” Word was that she knew everything there was to know about everyone, and I believed it. She had a charmin’ way about her, but you could tell there was sharp and dangerous under those pretty baby-blue eyes of hers.
Miss Azalea Thomplains was puttin’ on her face while she listened in to the boss’s hollerin’. She was one’a those flapper girls, the type that danced a Charleston or two around the hearts a’ men. We’d run a con or two together before, though she always seemed to be the one left holdin’ the bag… and the money.
Standin’ next to me was Joey Pelletier, a punk kid who managed to git hisself stuck in the truck a’ my Roadster one day, and had been hangin’ around like a bad penny ever since. He was a good lookout, inconspicous-like, and he knew how to make hisself scarce when things got rough. A good kid, mostwise.
And then there was me, Josiah Thessalations Macon, or J.T. for short. The verbosity of my christian name bein’ on account of my parents predilection for namin’ their children after the books (plural, mind ya’) of God’s Word. Hallelujah, praise their simple Appalachian souls. I was just a bootlegger at the time, handy behind the wheel of a speedy car, and not much of anythin’ when I wasn’t. As the boss jawed on, I kept stealin’ glances to my Roadster parked outside, frettin’ a touch about the mud on the runner boards.
Bamonte sure was fired up. Apparently he wasn’t exactly The Family’s first choice for the top-spot here in d’Ivoire. No, that particular honor had been bestowed upon Ralphie Carolla, a no-good, two-bit mug who happened to be kin to Sam “Silver Dollar” Carolla, the head’a the whole Dixie Mafia.
I’d worked a job with Ralphie before, a bank job, to be exact. He’d showed up late, drunk, and carryin’ around a double-barrelled shotgun. There were four guys who went into Hollins Central Bank that afternoon, Ralphie was the only one that came out, hollerin’ for me to floor it and leave our guys fer dead while simultaneously jammin’ the barrel of his damn boomstick in mah face.
I did not have a very high opinion of the man, and by the looks on the faces of my compatriots, neither did they. Mister Bamonte, full’a fire and brimstone, proselytized to us that Ralphie had, in a bout of pure, unrelentin’ stupidity, kidnapped the daughter a’ one’a the local plantation owners. If there was any hope of salvagin’ the situation, the girl would need to be returned to her parents right-quick, and Ralphie Carolla would need to be sent on down to the fiery pits of perdition.
We quickly got down to business. Joey and me took a quick tour of Ralphie’s neighborhood. It looked like no one was home, so we let ourselves in quiet-like, courtesy of a friendly crowbar. Inside, we didn’t find much, save for an unsettlin’ set of of metal-tube windchimes, some metal-workin’ equipment, and an old book hidden under the bed. I stashed the book and some papers scattered on ol’ Ralphie’s desk into a bag and we split.
Meanwhile, Doris and Mitch made the rounds to some’a the local businessmen Ralphie had been told to make contact with. Mostly down-on-their-luck types, the sorta men that would be desperate for our particular brand of largesse and “protection.” Turns out our would-be bossman hadn’t seen fit to follow up wit’ any a’ them, and we were stuck at square one in terms of gettin’ business up and runnin’ in the Forgotten City.
Azalea had caught a cab down to the docks, where it was rumored that Ralphie was spendin’ most’a his time jawin’ with some boys from the Port Authority. She sweet-talked a waitress at a nearby diner, and got a description of some’a the boys Ralphie’d brought up with him from Nawlins.
We reconvened back at the Boathouse and talked over what we’d found out so far for a spell. We were all of the opinion that our next step should be to take a looksee around the docks, in force if need be.
When we rolled down to the docks, Mitch hopped out an’ had a chat with a few dock-hands that we’re grabbin’ a bite to eat at the lunch counter. He asked ’em real polite-like if they’d like to tell ‘im where he could find Ralph and his boys, or if they’d rather see some’a the tricks he could do with that bayonet’a his. They weren’t too keen on parlor tricks, so they cracked up right-quick and told us that Ralph’s gang was spendin’ their time at a shack at the end of a pier down just a ways from where we were.
Joey scouted ahead for us, keepin’ a low profile as always. Folks don’t pay much mind to a kid playin’ down by the docks, and he was able to get right-close and put eyes on Ralph’s associates down at the edge of the pier.
Well sir, when Joey came back with the news, that was all I needed to hear. I charged my Roadster into battle, runnin’ on down the road, honkin’ for anyone too slow to git out my way.
We realized we had made a small tactical error when the bullets started whizzin’ and we came to find that the only firearm we had to speak of was Mitch’s trusty ol’ war rifle. Luckily, Mitch had seen fit to bring along a tank full of kerosene, and we had a coupl’a ol’ glass bottles in the trunk. Mitch took one through the shoulder while Azalea and I brewed up some molotov cocktails, and Joey snuck on down to the water’s edge and tried swimmin’ out to the end of the pier where them boys was holed up.
Our munitions secured, we proceeded to flambe those gentlemen currently attemptin’ to perforate us. One’a the coward-some mooks tried to make off in a rowboat with the girl, but Joey an’ his switchblade made quick work a’ that fella.
With the girl in good hands and the fire brigade comin’ up right quick, we decided to skeedadle, leavin’ Joey to make sure the little gal got home safe. We patched up our own and headed back to the boathouse… there’d been no sign of Ralphie at the pier, so we still had a’bit of blood-houndin’ to do…