The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Part 21
by Shane Migliavacca
The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Chapter 21 Sharping The Ax
The blood swirled around the drain of the stained sink. Rocky Burke looked at his hands. Some blood lingered around the fingernails. Turning the rusty hot water faucet on, he scrubbed his dirty fingernails. Over a week had passed since the Crimson Scorpion had escaped the Jaguar Club. Since Rocky impersonated him and staged an attack on that radio blowhard Wilbur White. And framed the newspaper owner with the stolen gear. Yet the damn Scorpion was still out there. Alive and kicking.
The bastard had threatened his family, killed some of their men and foiled their plans. All of this left Rocky in a foul mood. Jupiter had yet to come up with a new plan to go after the Crimson Scorpion. Instead he’d focused on stomping out the other small gangs still lingering in Starlight. With them now gone it came down to the big holdouts, Vic Hally and South Side Johnny.
Satisfied, Rocky turned the water off. He turned back to the man bound to the chair. Sweat matted the man’s hair. His right eye was blackened. His nose and mouth dribbled blood.
Rocky shrugged. “Smitty. You’re wearing out my fists.”
Smitty coughed. Hacking up a bit of blood and mucus onto his white shirt. His eyes steely as he glared at Rocky.
“It’ll be better on both of us if you just talk. I know there’s something going on. All you gotta do is talk. Then I’ll have the boys drop you at the hospital.”
“I ain’t telling you anything! You’re a dirty traitor.” Smitty spat out.
Drying his hands off, Rocky sized up the gangster. “I don’t think you can take much more there tough guy. Best spill now before I do something that ain’t gonna heal.”
There was a time, not too long ago, when Rocky couldn’t see himself doing something like this. The hunger for more. The anger in his belly threatened to burn him from the inside out. If he didn’t use it, Rocky would be consumed by the want and anger. He was a good son. A good soldier. Rocky did what needed to be done.
He motioned to the two masked men standing behind Smitty’s chair.
“Drag his chair over here.” Rocky ordered. Walking across the room.
The two men pulled the chair across the pockmarked concrete floor. Scrapping bits of the floor up as they went. Smitty craned his head around, trying to see where they were taking him.
“Whe-Where are you taking me?” Smitty uttered.
“Don’t worry about it buddy.” One of the men answered.
They deposited Smitty in front of where Rocky stood next to a metal gas tank.
Bending over the tank, he turned the valve, the nauseating smell of propane assaulted his nostrils. Lighting the torch, Rocky stood.
Smitty’s eyes widened as he started to whimper. The flame reflected in his bloodshot eyes.
“Now, tell me what I wanna hear.”
That was too much for the tough guy. He quickly spilled his guts to Rocky. What Smitty told him wasn’t good news, but it was what he’d expected. Now all that was left was to go tell the boss.
He was always the one that had to be the bearer of bad news, Rocky thought. Combing his mussed hair back into place.
“What about him?” One of the men asked.
“He needs to wash that blood off. Take for a swim in Black Water River.”
Smitty frantic, strained against his bindings. “You said I could go to the hospital!”
“Shouldn’t have called me a traitor Smitty.” Rocky said. “You went and ticked me off.”
As a pleading Smitty was dragged off, Rocky rolled his bloodstained sleeves down. Taking his jacket off the floor. He slid it on. Going to see the boss, Rocky always wanted to look his best.
He left the basement. Heading up to lobby of the Jaguar Club. Luckily there was nobody about. No one to see his slightly disheveled appearance.
The club was rarely busy. A good thing considering what they were doing here. In fact, Rocky wasn’t quite sure if the club was in operation at all.
His footsteps clicked on the marble stairs as he climbed to the second floor. Growing up in the slums, he’d dreamed of owning a large mansion with a big marble staircase. Now here he was, such a thing didn’t seem such a far fetched dream now.
Outside the boss’s door, Rocky gave himself the once over. Spiting into his hand and slicking back some wayward hairs on his head. Before lightly rapping on the looming wooden door.
“Enter.” Jupiter’s voice beckoned him in.
Jupiter stood, looking out the window of his 2nd floor office. Watching a bird careen over the building before finally landing on a small ledge. Rocky stood a few steps behind him.
“It’s confirmed then.” Jupiter stated. His voice vacant of emotion.
“Yup. Smitty was the third to tell me the same thing-”
“That Vic Hally and South Side Johnny come to an arrangement.”
Rocky nodded. “What are you gonna do about it?”
Jupiter stroked the bottom of his metal mask. Staring at the street below.
“Perhaps we need to form an alliance as well.” Jupiter stated after a moment.
“I thought the plan was to take ‘em out if they didn’t join us.” Rocky grumbled.
Jupiter turned from the window. Patting Rocky on the shoulder. “No my boy. Not them.”
Rocky considered the man’s words for a second. “Who ya talking about boss?”
“The police commissioner used to eat out of Diamond Bill’s hand. Perhaps it’s time we made him an offer. Why what we’re doing isn’t so different then what the police are supposed to be doing. Bringing order.” Removing his hand from Rocky’s shoulder caused the young man to flinch. Jupiter’s tone began to change. “Mickey brought me some other troubling news this morning.”
Rocky raised an eyebrow. “Boss?”
Jupiter walked past him, running a gloved hand over the surface of his desk.
“Our other enemy, the Crimson Scorpion has struck at us yet again. Taking out a couple of our men making collections. Killing them and taking the money.”
“Damn!” Rocky shouted. His fists clenched. He had a score to settle with the Crimson Scorpion. What he wouldn’t give for another shot at that masked freak. To get his hands on the bastard.
“Fear not. I’m seeing an idea. A way to rid us of some of our enemies. Do you know anything about the story of the Trojan Horse?”
Rocky scratched his head. “Naw, don’t really read.”
Jupiter chuckled. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll explain it to you later.”
“If it’s your idea boss, I’m sure it’ll be a good one.” Rocky said. Confident the man had another great scheme.
“We’ve come along way since I first planned this.” Jupiter ruminated. “I could never have predicted this Crimson Scorpion. They’ve been both a blessing and a curse. In the end though…They’ll share the same fate as the others that oppose us.”
“How ever you do this, there’s only one thing I want.” Rocky said. His voice cracking with emotion. “You have to promise me I can finish the Scorpion off when the time comes.”
“Soon, our enemies heads will roll. And that particular ax I’ll let you swing.”
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