Fiction: Mob Rule – Part 46
Still reeling from the road trip down South, Jack and Vanessa debrief the bosses on the Kennedys’ collusion with the British Prime Minister
By John Armstrong
She looked at me and I looked right back at her and gave the age-old “Who, me?” shoulder-shrug. She hitched hers in resignation and sighed.
“I was sent here by my father, the British P.M., who knows Joe Kennedy from decades ago, to see if it was possible to recruit Jack to our cause. Then we fell in love and I met the Kennedys and everything else and … here we are. Now I need to get hold of my father and tell him to stay well clear of those people. That’s it, in a nutshell.”
In modern slaughterhouses, instead of a sledgehammer, they now use an electric gun with a retractable bolt. As the steer comes through the chute onto the conveyor belt in the killing room, a man steps up beside it, puts the gun to the cow’s head and pulls the trigger while Bossie is still considering the situation, as much as a cow considers anything.
There’s a very brief moment of surprise and then the lights go out and the cow lays down in a heap on the belt and trundles away to be turned into dinner, and the next cow pokes his head through the little curtain. I know this because I toured one once, and I mention it because both Frank and Meyer had the exact same expression the cow has just before he goes down.
Frank stayed upright, though he didn’t say anything for a few seconds. Meyer drained his drink and poured quite a bit more.
“Could you tell me all that again,” Frank said. “Slower.”
She did, with slight amplification, and they didn’t look any less flummoxed by it.
Frank said, “The fucking British? No offense, miss- ”
Vanessa smiled. “Perfectly all right – none taken.”
I could see the wheels turning in Meyer’s head behind those big glasses.
“The Brits want to bring us back to the family of nations? I can see ways that might work, maybe.” He turned to Vanessa. “I was never an isolationist, like my partners were. I could never see the sense in turning down all that business.”
He looked over at Frank. “We need another meet with all the families, to organize our move on Joe, and the quicker the better. Let me work on this British thing, try to keep them out of it.” To Vanessa again, “Will your father talk to me, as the head of a sovereign nation?”
She smiled, “I’m sure he will. I just don’t know what he’ll say.”
“Just get him on the phone.”
…both Frank and Meyer had the exact same expression the cow has just before he goes down.
The hotel operator put the call through and after Vanessa reassured her father she was alive and well – and that involved more crying and carrying on – she handed the receiver to Meyer. We both needed a shower, food, and sleep. One of Frank’s attendants led us down the hall to another suite. I offered Vanessa first use of the shower, stripped to my shorts and socks and laid down on the bed. I’d almost forgotten what a real bed felt like. If anyone wanted my opinion, I was in favor of them.
I woke to someone shaking my shoulder. There was a blanket over me and a cold-looking room service tray on the dresser. Vanessa was snoring beside me.
The man at the end of the arm rousting me said, “I’m sorry Mr. Kennedy but they want you right away.” I sat up, feeling more awake than I had any right to.
I’d almost forgotten what a real bed felt like. If anyone wanted my opinion, I was in favor of them.
It was more like ten but I arrived showered, shaved, and wrapped in a hotel robe. From the state of the room no-one else had slept. Someone handed me coffee and I moved various piles around the sofa and sat down.
Meyer was in the same chair, talking quietly to a man I didn’t know. The man nodded and left, then Meyer spoke to me.
“You slept good, boychik?”
I waggled my head, mouth full of hot coffee and snagged toast nobody seemed very interested in from a tray on the table.
“I feel good,” I said, swallowing. “Now if you can find me some clothes, I’m all yours.” People were coming in and out while we talked, phones ringing and being answered.
“Clothes we got.” He eyeballed me and called out, “ Hey ‘Dolfo! Send someone out, get Jack some clothes, suits, chinos, underwear, the lot – 44 regular. Shoe size?”
“Ten-and-a-half.” Funny how much simpler things were when you didn’t have to worry about money.
“Half-hour,” someone shouted back.
“Wait a minute – have someone go to the room, get Miss Hilliard’s sizes, but just pick up what she needs to go shopping for herself.”
He turned his attention back to me.
“So, where to begin. All right – I talked to the P.M. and after what his daughter told him about the Kennedys, he’s much less inclined to buddy up with them. He didn’t say positively they’d stay out but we act fast, it won’t be an issue. What we need to do, Frank and I agree, is shut down Joe’s mob toot sweet, hit ‘em hard. Same time, we pay off the biggest of his civilian conspirators. We got guys already on their way, from that list you gave us.”
“You taking them all out?”
Meyer looked shocked.
“Why would we do that? We put the zotz on the biggest of them, as a lesson to others, and confiscate their businesses. Smaller guys, that aren’t worth taking over, we let them live on our sufferance and tax ‘em into the ground.” He shook his head. “You disappoint me, Jackie.”
“Hey, I just woke up.” I poured more coffee and said, “Then what?”
“Then we invade Boston.”
I shot coffee out my nose and had a small coughing fit. He waited for me to stop, tossed a napkin over and said, “Of course, you being the general, you get the final say. But that’s what me and Frank came up with.” He batted his eyes, all innocent behind those TV screen lenses.
“No, no, I just hadn’t planned my day out yet. You know, eat some breakfast, get dressed, settle back into the daily routine and invade Boston. What should we do after lunch?
I thought for a minute and said, “You know for sure Joe and Bobby are even back home?”
“We got eyes in Boston. They got home before you did. And they got a lot of guns there with them.”
“And how many men have we got?”
“All that we had when you left, plus I’m expecting a bunch more.”
“You know about the trouble we’re having, the streets? Well, I’m going to bring them all in for this.”
“And you’re going to do that how?”
“Easy. Buy them. Amnesty and considerations after this is over. And loot, all they can carry from wherever we hit.”
He looked at my face and gave me the full Sicilian shrug, arms out, palms up. “Eh. What can I say? ‘Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?’ ”
“Wisdom from the Torah?”
He smiled. “Nah – Abe Lincoln.”
“Then we invade Boston.” I shot coffee out my nose and had a small coughing fit
So that was my first day back, helping to organize an army for a foreign invasion, albeit one only three hours down the turnpike. I had time for room service eggs and whatnot before my clothes arrived, for the good they did me; I didn’t have time to get dressed until we broke for a late lunch and command meeting. I’d been somewhat offended when Meyer had sized me up as a size 44 but when they arrived they were if anything a bit snug. I blamed Cooter and his griddle for that and made a note to get some exercise, if I lived.
The first job was to get recruitment teams on the street with Meyer and Frank’s offer. The second was to contact the other Families in the region and tell them they’d been conscripted. Back when this first started the Council had authorized Frank to “do what he had to do” to get things under control and so far as I was concerned, that included drafting the other families’ rosters. That was my interpretation anyway, and it was the only one that counted. I didn’t think we’d have any trouble enforcing it. None of them liked Joe any more than we did, and there would be a lot of money lying around for the taking if we ousted him.
Frank handled the negotiations with them. Meyer ran the recruitment campaign and I handled logistics. I set up on the coffee table with a phone, pen, and paper and started making a list. Ordinance was at the top of it, which led me to the question I’d been either too tired or too busy to ask yet.
“Meyer,” I called over. He took the phone from his ear and covered the mouthpiece. “Why are we here instead of the Luciano building?”
He said something into the phone and hung up.
“Little while after you went we had bombs go off on three floors. Some of the new guys we hired, working for two paychecks. We caught one and he gave up the others but the place is a mess. We moved here and kept our place under guard.”
“I need an inventory of everything in the armory. Can we get that?”
“No problem. The stuff in the lower levels is all fine. What else?”
“Any idea how many men we’ll have”? They couldn’t walk to Boston, close as it was.
“Best guess or actual number”?
“Both – best guess now and firm it up when you can.”
“I’ll have payroll send you the number right now, Frank’ll have our auxiliary from the other Families any minute and I’ll have a number for you by the end of the day. Top of my head, 2,000.”
I whistled. And got back to work.
Mob Rule is a work of fiction and continues exclusively in The Ex-Press. To read past instalments, click here.
Illustrations: Victor Bonderoff
THE EX-PRESS, February 1, 2016