Crawling Through the Mud

I am very close now.  Only about 2500 more words and I will have it licked.  The last couple of thousand words feels like I am crawling uphill through the mud.  So I think I will take a shower and try again tomorrow.

Henry Wood Detective Agency:  Sum Stuff for Someplace in there…I hope.

Anthony was born in Sicily and felt entitled.  His father had grown up in the Bronx and made his mark during prohibition.  He was a well like family head.  When Anthony’s mom was pregnant with him, his father sent her back to Italy to have the child.  It was important to them.  When his father died of a massive coronary in 1949, Anthony took over the business.  His entire life he had listened to his father’s stories about how he had been cheated and should have been given the Island. He vowed to one day make it happen, for his father.

The rumors about a journal detailing all of Tommy’s criminal enterprises had been a sign.  It was his time.  He called in all his boys.

It was cold and snowing.  The doors to the shipping bay opened and three more guys wearing dark overcoats and hats hustled inside.  Everyone yelled to close the door.  The center of the warehouse had been cleared out.  There were chairs and a few tables.  The cavernous building had all the windows blacked out, because Anthony used this for his ‘secret’ meetings.

He didn’t have great management skills, but his men respected him.  He wasn’t especially tough.  What he was good at was strategy.  When Anthony decided it was time to move and sent the word out, he made sure that each man knew not to discuss the time or place.  Keeping secret in their world, was no small feat.  After many years of building his gang, he had instilled an almost military efficiency and chain of command.  While other bosses would bark out a command and then the worker bees would spread the word, with little regard for who might be listening, he had developed a fairly complicated group of signals.

Anthony got the idea while watching baseball.  He loved the game, especially the NY Giants, though he would watch anybody.  He never played as a boy and when he first went to a game, a guy sitting next to him, was explaining the signs the 3rd base coach was giving to the batter and base runner.  Anthony was fascinated.  The father explained there was a indicator, which if not given, would mean all the other sighs were faked.  It might be a touch of the hat, or the elbow, or kicking at the dirt.  It was hard to tell.

Anthony, who generally didn’t like admitting he didn’t know something, simply mentioned that it was his first time to a game.  He wanted to hear more about the signals. The little boy became very excited.  He immediately started talking about the teams and players and added that catchers talk with the pitchers, using signs too.  Anthony was hooked.  He bought everyone hotdogs and cokes and enjoyed the rest of the game with his new friends.  The Giants won 5-4 in 13 innings.

The next day he called a meeting with his top two guys.  Two hours later they had a basic set of signs.  When he brought in half a dozen of the guys, to tell them his new plan, one of them made a wisecrack.

He shot him in the face.  The rest of the guys seemed more enthusiastic for his idea after that.  In the years since, there had only been one breach of security.  The guy, who had talked about their signs, was beaten almost to death, allowed to recover and then beaten again.  The second time he died. From that day forward there was order among the ranks.

Forty guys sat in chairs on crates, there were another dozen outside, looking for people who might be snooping around.  The warehouse was cold, so four drums were being filled with broken pallets.  Once the fires were lit, it warmed up considerably.  Most of the guys were smoking and talking in small groups.  Four others were standing behind a row of tables.

The tables were divided up, the first one containing pistols.  Two guys were checking each one, cleaning them if needed and making sure they weren’t traceable.  The next two tables were for the machine guns and the other two guys were going over each one meticulously.  The last two tables were covered with ammunition, carefully labeled to indicate the caliber.  The three guys, who had just walked in, stood by the burning barrel, quietly talking among themselves.  “This looks serious, you see the tables?”


“Yeah, looks like we getting ready to hit the beaches.”

“Who do ya think we going after?”

“I don’t know, but I ain’t ever seen so much iron.”

“It must be big because…”  His voice trailed off as Anthony and his two lieutenants entered through the back door.  Everyone stood up, not at attention, but still respectful.  Anthony hadn’t insisted on such formality, but over time, they had started to take on the personality of a formal military.  Anthony liked it.

“At ease everyone.”  Anthony walked around and greeted everyone by name, and asked a few about their wives and children, the boys at the tables joined the others and Anthony began to speak, “It is good to see you all.”  He paused to smile at his troops.  “I have told many of you, of the horrible treatment of my father.  You know how he was wronged when Manhattan was given to that idiot and then again when Tommy was allowed to take over after his demise.”

“A few chuckled at the word demise, as everyone knew that Tommy had killed his boss.  Anthony liked getting a laugh.  “Tommy can’t handle Manhattan; it is too much for his pea brain.  If a man can’t keep his business quiet, then he doesn’t deserve to be in charge.  He don’t deserve the rich rewards which comes with such a valuable piece of real estate.  HIs time had come.  We gonna take the island from them, and there ain’t a damn thing he can do about it.”

The cheers were more tepid than he had expected.  The looks on the men’s faces told the story.  “Some of you may be worried about the size of his organization.”  He started to pace, “Ha, organization, I should have said disorganization.”

A more rousing round of laughter and Anthony knew he had them.