- February 15, 2021
The Hood: Violence & Prohibition Chapter 1
Chicago. A living, breathing, cesspool. It’s gestating in the Midwest of the United States, the home of the brave, of freedom, and equality, if you live in the right place. I wonder if the rich-wig men who created this country would have expected their nation to be roughly the same over a century and a half later.
It’s February 28th, 1929, and the American people are still owned by the rich. Now slavery is legal only as long as you pay them, and they can still treat the labor harshly in the same way, no matter the color. The rich obeyed this law, and for the most part, obeyed most laws publicly, and kept everything else a secret.
In Chicago though, it’s different. The richest, most powerful man, started out at the bottom, and took advantage of the alcohol ban during this so-called, Prohibition. Then he expanded into gambling and prostitution on top of the bootlegging. For a while he kept to himself in the way that he didn’t get caught. He behaved as other rich, corrupt people do, they make money and cultivate power illegally in a way that the people can ignore. Not anymore though.
Al Capone made himself the talk of the streets two weeks ago. On February 14th, Capone arranged for George “Bugs” Moran and the higher ups of his North Side gang to get together. Moran didn’t show, but eight of his men did. Capone’s hitmen shot them dead, sending an important message to his closest competitor.
“Don’t fuck with me.” I don’t know if Moran heard the message, and I don’t really care. Everyone else, all the poor, working people, they heard the message, and they realized the little power they held. It shook mothers to their core, of what happened to those men. The fact that a bunch of people were lined up as if in an animal slaughterhouse, and shot to pieces while they were cleaning the apartment, it stuck with them. It shook the fathers too while they were at work, trying to earn some money to be able to pass by. The idea that someone who was once in their predicament, someone who gave in to crime, and was shot dead for it, it shook them. Because of some sense of validation, relief maybe, and others a deeper depression, learning the risk if they were to go into the same profitable business, shook them. The kids though, they were scared, not shocked. The kids who were probably playing on the docks, hanging out near old warehouses, being where they weren’t supposed to, because they were kids. The kids who heard the gunshots, the screams of grown men in pain, they all got the message.
I did too. I heard it loud and clear, and now, I need to do something about it. Those men Capone had killed, they weren’t good men, none of them. No one mourned them except for their mothers and their ole’ ladies, maybe their kids and some siblings. We all know the ones who will mourn us no matter what we did. I was one of them, someone who was going to mourn one of those men, because they were something to me.
I don’t accept Capone’s message. I won’t be shocked, but I’ll shake him, because I know no one else will, no one else can. Not because of what I can do, but because everyone else is shocked. I’m going to do what needs to be done, to unshake the people, but also, to do it for me, my validation, my need.
I’m going to send Capone a message, and he ain’t gonna forget.
I sit on the edge of a roof top, five stories high near the fire escape, right across from hidden bar in the back of the suit tailor. I doubt that tailor has ever had any real business. The bar though, it is one of Capone’s, and they are restocking tonight. I had watched the place each night for a couple of days. It’s popular so it wasn’t hard to find, and because it is popular, they have to constantly restock, which means I didn’t have stake out that long to see that they restock on Wednesdays. Killing these guys will certainly scare some of Capone’s suppliers from up north, but that is just an extra bonus to my main target.
Anthony Capizzo, an underling of Capone. Capizzo runs a couple of bars for Capone’s operation, and this is one of his favorites where he can go to drink alone with his buddies. Every time this bar restocks he clears it out to try all the new stuff with his buddies. Capizzo is the one I’m after tonight.
I see the small truck that carries the boxes of alcohol. They are hidden under actual supplies for a tailor to be brought inside through the side of the shop. That alcohol is how this hidden bar gets shut down. The truck then pulls into the alley like any other night. It is time to put on the helmet.
It is in my hands. My helmet, my design, and created by the old recluse, Nikola Tesla himself. It is made of a lightweight alloy that can deflect small arms. I still need to avoid rifles, and Thompson’s though. The helmet has Tesla’s starlight night-vision, and distance zoom up to several hundred feet.
My design comes in it’s looks. The helmet rounds off at the front, leaving no visual eyeholes. Tesla made it work so the lenses weren’t visible looking from the outside. The back has a steep round off so that it is parallel with the back of my skull. It fully encases my head but no part of it covers my neck, allowing me to easily turn my head. The part that everyone will remember though, is its color, which is completely and unabashedly black. My trademark.
I slip the helmet on over my head. I like that it’s black. They can’t see anything when the rest of my outfit is black, besides the red stripes down the arms of my leather jacket. The jacket is admittedly a larger size than what I should be wearing, but it can hide my taser-gun, another creation of Tesla. The cargo pants holds my other gadgets, military equipment. There isn’t much I can do to protect my chest.
I slip off the side of the roof onto the fire escape. Then I jump over the fire escape and hang on with one hand. I let go and grab onto every other floor until I hit the last one, careful not to make a loud sound. When I am on the last floor, I drop to the ground to my hands and the top of my feet to not make too loud a sound.
My steps are silent as I move to the corner of the alley and peer around the corner. It’s the dead of night, usually when the only ones walking around are those who are drunk or those who don’t want to meet me. Still, I check.
No one is around besides those from the truck, who has now begun to unload the alcohol out of the truck. There are two dressed in their typical mobster suits and top hats; one man had his back to me as he unloads everything from the truck to the ground next to him, while the other is bringing them inside.
I crouch down and quickly tiptoe across the street. The street lamps will give me away so I move swiftly and silently. I reach into my jacket and across my chest with my right hand to unholster my taser. It’s usually more fun to take them down with my hands, but I shouldn’t waste the time or energy right now.
As I crouch down, I aim the taser-gun in line with the back of his head. I switch the gun’s settings to overcharge, which was Tesla’s nice way of saying kill. Once I am within 15 ft, I squeeze the trigger and a ball of electricity no bigger than a bullet goes forth. It is quiet, which was the reason Tesla used electricity as its ammunition.
The ball of electricity flies fast like a bullet, and when it hits the man it vaporizes a hole into his neck. I assume, as Tesla had explained to me, the bullet is spreading throughout his body destroying it from the inside. One shot is a death sentence assuming a person isn’t wearing rubber shoes.
The first man falls to the ground just as I reach him. The other man heard the fall and asks if his pal is okay as he starts walking to the back of the truck. I quickly jump into the back of the truck. It is very dark in here, allowing the shadows to conceal me. When the other man walks around the truck, he drops to his knees to turn over the body of his friend. As soon as he sees the burn hole in his friend’s neck I quickly drop down and bring my elbow down on the back of his neck. He falls forward onto the ground and starts to get back up. I grab the back of his head in the palm of my right hand, and because he is still groggy, I am able to smash his head right into the ground. Lucky me, I break his nose.
I turn around and move alongside the truck to the door that leads to the inside of the bar. I searched the outside of this place earlier. I learned every nook and cranny, so when I reach the door I go past it. I keep moving alongside the wall and eventually get to the electrical circuit box. There is a lock on its hinges so I aim my taser-gun at it. I squeeze the trigger and the lock burns off the bolt, allowing me to open it up. I switch the gun’s settings to stun, and shoot the electrical box. All the circuit lights go crazy and either blew up or went out. All the lights in the bar should be out now, giving me the tactical advantage.
I move back to the side door and crack it open. The only thing that comes out are the sounds of rumbling and yelling, but no light or laughter. I move in, making sure to shut the door behind me. When I enter the night vision comes on automatically, making it so I am looking at the world in black and white with a few shades of red.
There are stairs that lead down to a basement hallway, under the tailor. The basement is cement, perfect for capturing darkness and looking rather uninviting. I go down as silent as possible. The hallway connects many rooms, all with doors on the right, but none necessarily give away where the bar is. I move down the hall listening for voices near each door, and eventually I find one where noise can be heard. It sounds like a lot of them are in there, which doesn’t bode well for any idea of head on attack. They can all shoot at one direction, and I’m not about to try and dodge the gunshots of multiple men, even if they are drunk.
I need a different point of entry, one that places me in the middle of the fray immediately so that they don’t have time to shoot at me from all angles if they do end up having guns. A way of entry where they’ll be shooting at each other and not all at me.
I’ll have to go through the tailor’s shop.
“Ronnie! Grab some matches! They should be behind the bar.” Damn place.
Of course, the power goes out tonight, not any other day of the week when the place is full of some brats and punks looking to get lucky.
“I don’t see ‘em! Tony, come over and get ‘em! I can’t see,” the fatass says.
“What makes you think I’ll see, eh? I ain’t no bat,” I tell him. Ronnie can pour a drink, but he’s dumber than the Zoot on my foot.
There is bump right before I hear someone yell “Ow!”
“Who was that?” I call to them.
“It was me,” someone shouts out.
“Who the fuck is me?” I remind him.
“Sorry, it’s Alf.”
“Bunch of numskulls I got in here,” I say to make sure everyone hears. “Everybody stay still. I’ll try and find the matches so you guys stop hurting yourselves!” Can’t trust anyone to do anything, even when they’re not wasted out of their minds. I splay out my hands on the table around me and try to figure out where I am. “Ronnie, try whistling. Make some noise so I can get to you.” The screech Ronnie makes is so terrible, it reminds me of a bird as if it is being eaten by a dog. Everyone groans and I tell Ronnie, “Never mind! Never mind! Shut up! Just knock-on wood or somethin’.”
“Sorry,” Ronnie says, and then I hear him knocking on the counter to my right. I keep moving between tables and I end up hitting my hip on the bar. “You okay Tony?”
“Yeah, yeah. I’ll be fine. Ugh.” What a night this is going to be. I reach over the counter and feel around for the glove compartment, where the matches should be. Then I hear someone walking on the ceiling.
“Shit, I think I forgot to lock the front door again,” I hear one of the idiots say. Jesus Christ, can’t count on nobody.
“I’ll tell ‘em to screw off in a minute.” Can these guys just give me a chance to do something else first? Then I think I find the handle on the drawer and I pull it out. I reach in and find the matches. “There we go.” I pop the lid and worm a matchstick out of the carton. I swipe the match on the side of the box and it doesn’t light.
“How old are those things Tony?” I hear someone ask. I think it was Ronnie.
“I don’t know! It’ll work, trust me,” I tell him. I swipe faster a couple more times and it lights. “See, what I tell you?” I say in a chuckle as Ronnie’s chubby cheeks are now lit by the match. “Ye’ have a little faith.”
Ronnie pleads that, “I always had faith! That’s why I asked you to find them!”
I still want to yank on his chain a little bit though. “Yeah, sure you did. Here hold this one.” I hand him the match. “Everyone come get one, I’m not coming to you.” I start handing them out and they go back to drinking.
Donnie says, “I’ll go check upstairs.”
“Yeah, better go do that,” I tell myself. I turn my back to him as he starts to walk away. Then the ceiling starts to buzz. “What the hell? Donnie hurry up and get up there!”
I hear Donnie turning the doorknob as he says. “I’m going! I’m goin-”
“What the fuck?!” someone yells.
The ceiling comes crashing down, flooding some light into the room. Then in the middle of the room, is this man, I think? He is kneeling with a hood over his head, like a hood from a jacket, not a sheet. Then he stands up slowly and raises his head. He is wearing this black helmet and leather.
Upon seeing the intruder, my pal Alf springs into action. “Think this is Halloween you freak?!” I hear Alf say. Alf is this big, tough guy. The one we don’t mess with unless he’s piss drunk out of his mind. Alf goes after this freak, goes in to sucker punch him with a right hook.
Then this guy just, sidesteps him. It all goes so fast. Alf just misses, but this guy looks like he’s walking on air! He sidesteps and then hits Alf straight in the chest with his palm. When Alf kneels over after the gut punch, the freak still real quick, grabs his head with the same hand, moves away and then starts kneeing my man in the face a couple times. Alf’s head eventually goes flying up, blood from his nose flying, and the freak grabs him by the arm, turns around, and flips Alf over onto his back. Then the freak just precedes to beat on him. Fists with both hands just rain down on poor Alf, and this goes on, and I just watch. At first the noises were just BAM! BAM! BAM! Eventually though they start to make squishy sounds, like he just broke Alf’s face away.
Eventually the masked man stops and looks back up at us. Fists hanging low, dripping with my friend’s blood. “Well?” the masked man says. His voice, it sounds like static is running over it, like on a radio.
His voice snaps me out of this trance and I look around. We’re all just staring. This fucking freak just beat our friend to death and we’re just fucking watching! In this hoarse voice I yell, “HEY! FUCKING GET ‘IM!” This knocks some guys out of it.
John, he is standing at a table to my right. He quickly snaps and pulls out a switchblade.
“That’s all you have?” the masked man taunts. “Here I was worried you’d have guns.” Then right as John is about to rush him. The freak quickly moves to the right, and God knows how, sweeps up this chair with his foot and launches it straight at John’s head. The leg of the chair hits John right in the head, causing him to stumble backwards for a second. The masked man goes to rush John as Donnie starts to chase after him.
The masked man grabs John’s knife arm, pulls on it to straighten it out, then strikes John’s elbow with his palm, causing it to snap. John makes this noise of pain that gives me chills. John lets the switchblade slowly slip from his hands, and as it starts to drop the masked man grabs it in his right hand. He quickly slashes John’s throat as he begins to fall back.
The masked man clenches his left hand into a fist and swings behind him, but Donnie ducks. Donnie shoulder charges the masked man, grabbing at his waist trying to lift him. He must not have seen the masked man grab the switchblade.
“Donnie he’s got a knife!” I call to him.
The masked man splays out his legs like a wrestler, stopping Donnie from lifting him up. I don’t see the knife, but I see the motion of his right hand, and the sound as the masked man stabs Donnie in the gut repeatedly, coldly, unrelenting.
They’re all dead now. It’s just Ronnie and me. One man just beat down all of my guys, with such savageness. I thought what happened to Moran’s guys was nauseating, but this?
“Cowards,” the masked man says. I didn’t notice before, but now I think he’s looking right at me.
“What?” I respond with disgust.
“You’re a coward. You and the loon next to you. You just watched.” He’s taunting me now. Then he starts walking towards me. I reach around the back of the bar and grab the top of a glass bottle. I just keep it there for when he’s close. “I don’t know why I expected more from you,” he continues, still walking towards me. When he is right next to me, he brought his helmeted face close enough to me that he should feel my breath. “Tell me, did your spine disappear with the alcohol or when you saw me?”
I don’t give him the satisfaction of an answer. I swing the bottle at his head.
SMACK! He catches my wrist, then headbutts me hard with his helmet. I feel him quickly wrench the bottle from my hand, then I hear it break as I stumble backwards into the bar. Then I hear some rattling and climbing, then a slice.
I turn my head to my left, and try to concentrate but my eyes won’t focus. Then it does. Ronnie’s splayed out over the bar, bleeding from the throat. Then I quickly look back at the masked man right before he grabs me by the throat in his left hand, and holds the bloody bottle in his right.
“What do you want?” I cry out.
“I want to send a message, to Capone,” he tells me. Here’s my chance. I’ll beg for my life, I don’t care!
“I’ll tell him, I’ll tell him anything you want! Let me be the messenger!”
The masked man tilts his head, I think. “Heh.” Did this freak just giggle? Is he smiling under that helmet? “You can’t be the messenger,” he tells me. I start to slow, right before he finishes his sentence. “You’re the message.”
Then he comes at me.
Tonight, I was very successful. I had pulled off small stunts before, the kind that would only piss off Capone’s organization. Tonight though, this is the start of the beginning. Time to tell my conspirator recluse the good news.
I jump across the last rooftop of the night. The rooftop of Tesla’s apartment. I land on my feet and my right hand on reflex, causing a searing pain in my palm.
“Ssss,” I hiss. “Damn it.” When I caught that thug’s knife, I must have grabbed it by the blade, cut my hand open. The continuous pounding, I gave those guys didn’t do anything but make the cut worse. I’ll have to stitch it up inside, maybe give the germophobic doctor a heart attack.
I hold my hand close to my chest and move towards the rooftop door. I open it slowly with my left hand and listen down the stairwell to make sure no one is coming up. I sense an all clear. I proceed down the stairs as quietly as I had done earlier tonight. People should still be asleep.
I descend down and around, stopping on the top floor. Tesla prefers to live as high up as he can afford, as the cold cultivated the most ‘deadly,’ bacteria. His apartment number is 74, which is two doors down from the stairwell.
I maintain my silent movement to the door. When I get there, I reach into my jacket’s inner pocket on my right side. I pull out a pair of lock picks. I don’t have a key, Tesla can’t afford to get me an extra one, and I’m not going to knock.
The lock on the door is down in seconds then I slowly push it open and stroll on in. The apartment is dank and small, unbecoming of such an inventor as Tesla, but that’s what happens when your opponent was an experienced businessman. His mattress is sheetless and thin, cheap in every aspect of the word. The room is dimly lit by candles, he refuses to use light bulbs out of spite. Coil is littered across the room, remnants of whatever his last invention was.
His sink is near his bed and the bathroom, probably so he can wash his hands at any time. As I walk over to the sink, I hear the falls and flops of the mop in the bathroom. Tesla’s probably cleaning. When I get to the sink, I open it up and pull out the first-aid kit. I take my gloves off of my hands and inspect the slash in my palm as I drudge out the needle and string to stitch it up.
I carefully tie the string into the needle and find cleaning alcohol in the kit too. I uncap the bottle and pour some of it to keep it clean. The alcohol predictably causes a burning sensation and I hiss. The mopping stops but I just immediately start to stitch up the cut in my hand. It’s not bleeding so much, but it’s a long gash. If I don’t stitch it will get in the way of my grip on my gun permanently and probably won’t heal right either. Still, this is probably the least damaging of all the injuries I sustained so far.
“Who’s there?!” Suddenly the bathroom door whips open, a man quickly jumps out, and a mop is swinging towards me. It stops at my helmet.
“Hey doc,” I greet Tesla.
Tesla is holding the mop at me; he had stopped swinging it when he noticed it was me. He loosens up and sighs heavily. “It’s just you….” He starts to complain to me, “why didn’t you tell me you came in?! I could have hit you while you were-” then he realizes I have been getting his sink all bloody. “Damn it! What are you doing?! I just finished cleaning my home.”
When the old man is yelling at me like this, I can really see the lines and wrinkles in his face. Tesla sure looks like he is 72, at least he can swing a mop like he is still 60. I plainly and unapologetically tell him, “I cut my hand and needed to stitch it up.”
“You aren’t even doing it right,” he berates me.
I sarcastically offer, “Tesla, would you like to stitch up my hand?” I figure his germaphobia is bothering him a lot more than usual today.
“Er, no.” Then he turns away in a huff and a puff. I continue to stitch up my hand. Admittedly I could be doing better, but I don’t care enough at the moment. Then after a few minutes while I am stitching, I hear footsteps, and then Tesla slams a chair in front of me. “You can call me Nikola. You’ve known me long enough,” he reminds me as he sits down beside me. “Stop what you’re doing. You’ll ruin your hand. Come on face me.”
“Tesla rolls off the lips better. Are you really offering to help?” He has reluctantly done so before, but I expected to fixing myself up tonight.
Tesla just sighs and I offer him my hand. “I can’t let you ruin your hand like this. Oh, I’m gonna have to undo this terrible job you started.” When he takes my hand and starts cutting and removing the string, I can feel his own hands shaking.
“Should you be doing this right now?” I ask him.
He definitively responds, “Even with my hands trembling, I’ll still do better than your shit work.” Even though his hands are that of a man after being struck by lightning, he still efficiently sticks the needle and connects the ends of my severed skin. Then he sighs again.
“What’s wrong?” I ask him.
Tesla just shakes his head. He soberly starts telling me, “You know when you came to me, looking for my assistance, I almost didn’t say yes.”
“You didn’t say yes. You changed your mind after a few days,” I remind him.
“Do you know why?” He asks me. I shake my head. I never found it important, as long as he helps me get what I want, his motivations didn’t need to matter. “You called me washed up, a has been inventor, the very definition of wasted potential.” He stops after repeating my words to me.
“I remember, I stand by what I said.” I meant it too, no one gives a damn what Nikola Tesla does anymore, and I wasn’t going to spare his feelings. I’ve kissed up to enough people to not kiss up to him in his sorriest state.
He suddenly pulls tight on the string, probably hoping to make me wince over my words. “I denied you at first, and then you left me alone for a while. I thought about my life, long and hard. I loved, love inventing. Making the world better through them, but no cares for how I can help them anymore.”
“Where are you getting at?” I ask him. Is he about to give me a sob story?
Tesla just looks depressed, his mustache becoming loose on his upper lip. “Nowhere I guess,” he answers. He just finishes up with my stitching. “Get out of the way, I need to wash my hands.”
I get up from my place, and start to drag my chair to the other side of the room. I turn back to see Tesla start to sterilize his hands, before the first-aid equipment. He would probably sterilize his hands again afterwards.
I ask him, “Mind if I change?”
“No, not really. I wouldn’t mind talking to a face instead of a faceless helmet.” I wonder if the helmet dissociates me from Tesla. It’s meant to do that to my opponents, but I’ve always assumed that he wouldn’t feel the same effect, being the helmet’s maker and having seen what lies underneath. “Your ‘civilian clothes,’ as you call them. They’re in the top of my dresser. You can put your gear in there too. I’m not going to put any of mine in there anymore.”
On the other side of the room is the dresser he just spoke about. I walk over and blow out the candle to get some privacy as I change. Tesla scoffs when I do that, but I ignore him. I let my jacket fall from my shoulders and then I sling it around the chair. I put my hands to my helmet and then stop. It always takes something out of me to take off the helmet, but I do it, and rest it on the dresser, the face portion looking at me. Then I take off my shirt and sit in the chair.
“Did you blow out the candle so I didn’t see your face?” Tesla asks me. I turned around smile at him. “The helmet isn’t your true face.”
“I know what I look like.” I know better than anyone.
He continues to comment, “You don’t hide your scars. The ones on your back. How they got there, I’ll always wonder.” He can wonder all he likes, better that way.
I shift my gaze to the helmet. It has always been a beautiful thing. Too bad I’m not the one usually seeing it.
“That helmet,” Tesla says, still looking for my attention, “people will give it a name.”
“I’ll just have to remember to tell someone to call me the Hood then,” I tell him.
“The Hood. That’s the name you want to be a symbol to the people? It’ll be hard, but that name will eventually become something more than a moniker for you to hide behind.” I interrupt Tesla before he can go on.
“That is part of the point I guess,” I agree. This is an attempt to quell his talking.
“Are you ready for that?” he incessantly asks. “Ready to inspire? Or be brought down? The latter is more likely.”
“I’m ready for whatever comes my way. Other people are free to take it however they like.”
“Are you sur-”
“I am sure,” I interrupt sternly.
He sighs again. Then speaks once more, annoyingly. “I forgot to ask; how did it go tonight?”
Well, that’s something I actually want to talk about. “Capizzo went down even easier than I expected. I even got to have some fun with his gang before I had to deliver him to Capone.”
“Deliver?” Tesla asks all confused. I haven’t told him this part beforehand.
I turn around to smile deeply at him. “Yes, he’s the message. Took a while to string the message out for Capone to see, but it was all worth it. I’m sure someone will take a picture of his face for the history books, hehe.” I have to turn around back to my clothes to hide my grin.
“Boss! Boss!” The calling out for me came first, then came the incessant knocking on my door. “Boss you gotta get up! There’s something you have to see!”
“Ugh,” I groan. My eyes flutter open a couple times and then close again. My body fighting to go back to sleep.
The one last scream wakes me up cold. My eyes shoot open to looking straight up at the ceiling.
“WHAT?!” I scream back.
“Someone’s dead outside,” I hear my guard say.
“What?” I ask again rhetorically, shocked even. “Someone is dead here?”
“Yes, sir. We need you to come see it.”
Jesus Christ. The declaration of war has come from Moran. I’ve been having nightmares that this day would come. The massacre, changed things in ways I hadn’t planned, hadn’t wanted, and it was only a matter of time I guess until someone tried to bite back.
“I’ll be out in a minute,” I tell my guard. I slowly try to lift myself up as my body aches to go back to bed. I push harder until I sit up right. I rub my eyes a bit, then look at Mae’s dresser with my robe placed over the chair. She hates when I do that, but she isn’t home for the night, so I have taken some liberties. I slip on the nice silk and once again feel sleep coming for me. It has to be 2 or 3 in the morning for me to feel this tired. I stand up and make the long trek to the door. Once I eventually get there, I take hold of the knob but don’t turn for a second.
Whose body am I about to see? One of my guys. One of my own boys dead because of a plan I made that went belly up. I better get used to it I guess, because these are the kind of nights I’m sure are going to be happening a lot from now on. I turn the doorknob and push.
Jimmy is at the door waiting for me. I point to him, “Your name’s Jimmy, right?”
“Dominic, actually sir,” he replies timidly. “I’m new.”
“My bad,” I tell him. “I’ll get your name.” I feel bad getting one of my boy’s names wrong. I’m even close. The hallway is still pretty dark, and as I start walking towards the stairs the light gets brighter. When I get to the spiral staircase along the wall, just like the rich people in the movies, the light blinds me so good I don’t see them. As I start walking down the stairs, arm firmly grasping the rail, my eyes adjust. Then I notice my boys standing by the door and outside in front of it.
Then I notice the pool of blood on my front porch through the open door. Then I see the feet hanging, but I can’t see the top of the body. Moran made it to my front fucking porch. I turn towards my boy, talking to him all angry, “Hey Jimmy! You didn’t tell me that I could see him from the in-fucking-side! How the hell did you let him get that close?!”
Jimmy is at a loss for words. “We don’t know boss, I swear! We were on our usual patrol routes and we found him strung up. No one saw anybody get in or out!”
“Forget you,” I say with a dismissive flick of my hand.
Then I start hurrying down the stairs in my red robe, wife beater, underpants and all, finally wide awake. I go through the door frame and duck my head under the feet, pushing some of my guys in the process. I then take a deep breath, and turn around.
“No… “ I mutter in a cry. “Not fucking Capizzo…. Not Tony…” One of my oldest buddies. Could always trust him. Never asked for a thing, never wanted power or extra money, just a few bars to spend his time and drink. Moran knew just where to hurt me when he chose who to hang by the neck.
The boys around me just dip their heads in shame or respect, because Moran had none. I look him over, Capizzo suffered in the end, anyone can tell. His face is beaten in so hard, his eye sockets are bleeding out, like the eyeballs had popped. His fingernails ripped out, which means they probably grilled him for information. All the nails are out, which means Capizzo held it together for a long time. He is in his underpants, the fuckers want him degraded, and for me to see the reason that blood is on my porch. Poor Tony’s stomach is sliced to pieces. He lost most of the blood on the way here because the amount on the floor isn’t enough to have been in his stomach.
I bring my hand to my face. “Jesus Tony, Jesus.” I can’t look anymore.
“Boss, there’s something in his mouth,” one guy says to me.
“Well get it out! And get him down, now,” I tell them aggressively. I wait around as they struggle to take down poor Tony’s body. “And clean this up. Can’t have Mae or Albert seeing this.”
It takes them all 20 minutes to take him down, and they find what is in his mouth. I hear them uncrumple it so I know it is a letter before my man gives it to me. “It’s a note boss, still legible.”
I hold my hand out, and it is placed in my hand. I feel the saliva and cold blood on it, Tony’s blood.
I slowly take it out in front of me and hold it in both hands. The print is still legible but… it’s in script. Moran didn’t write this, his handwriting is pure shit. I’ve had letters stolen from him enough to know that. Maybe a lackey, couldn’t take the time to do it himself.
I start reading to myself.
This is what you get. This is what you deserve. Couldn’t stay within the norm, the bubble. Had to expand it, change it. This isn’t the first of guys to fall. He wasn’t alone.
Fucking bastards must have taken out Capizzo’s guys too. So many funerals, so much to make Moran pay for. The letter continues.
Let the brutality sink in. Let the sliced flesh, the destroyed senses, let it all sink in so you remember. You remember why you should have just been the same kind of criminal as everyone else. You remember how far I go.
Wait, this says ‘I,’ but this wasn’t written Bugs. What the hell is this?
When you upset the natural order, you spawn only more madness to jump at you. That’s how I came up, from the madness, the abyss. You looked into the abyss, and it stared back at you. When you blinked I came out. I am the hands coming to shove you off into that abyss.
This isn’t Moran. This is personal in a way I’ve never considered possible. Someone snapped, and they snapped bad. I’m dealing with a fucking psychopath, serial-killer now. There is still some left in the letter.
I am not your enemy. I am not your obstacle or your challenge. I am not your karma or your punishment. I am your consequence.The Hood
“Madness, that’s what this all is,” I start muttering.
“Are you okay boss?” some dimwit asks me.
“No, I most certainly am fucking not okay,” I tell him. “Get my wife, get my son, we’re not staying here anymore.” If this, Hood, can sneak past all of my men and hang up a body without anyone knowing, he can get in here whenever he likes. He can reach and touch any one of mine. I won’t have it. “There’s going to be some immediate changes to protocol too. Everyone, and I mean fucking everyone! Carries their damn gun with them. Always! Never go out alone at night. Never, not until this goddamn freak is in the ground!”
“We’ll get right on it in the morning, boss,” one guy says.
I walk right up to him, he’s taller than me easily, about 6’2 to my 5’10, but I have him shaking in his boots. I say coldly, “Morning? I hope it’s after midnight because you’re going to make sure it’s all done, right now. Comprende?”
The puss swallows real hard. “Yes sir,” he assures me. Then he runs off.
As I watch him go, I feel something shaking. I look down at my hand, and it won’t stop moving. I grab it with my other hand, but it doesn’t stop. What is this feeling? I’ve never felt like this before, so tense, so nervous.
I think I know. It can only be the one thing I’ve never had to consider before.