The Crimson Scorpion Strikes Part 4
by Shane Migliavacca
The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Chapter 4 This Little Piggy
Rocky Burke felt the sweat trickle down his back. It was another scorcher tonight. Like the flames of hell let loose on earth. It was fitting really. Tonight he’d be going to the devil himself. There was no doubt about it. He’d be glad when this night was over.
Following Mac Frazier, Diamond Bill’s number one guy through a large warehouse on the waterfront. Rocky hadn’t been with Diamond Bill’s outfit for very long, but he was pretty sure this was one of their big hideouts for stolen goods. All the stuff they took from the trucks they hijacked. There could be all sorts of pricey junk in here. Diamond Bill had his hand in all kinds of rackets besides hijacking though. Numbers. Bookmaking. Protection rackets. Prostitution. Even with Prohibition over, there was still plenty of dough to be made. Diamond Bill was number one man in Starlight’s mob scene. Despite that Crimson Scorpion character’s attempts to take his organization down. The only ones that really suffered was some of the small time crews the Scorpion attacked. City was better off without them small timers anyways. A bigger slice for everyone else.
That’s what Rocky wanted. A bigger slice of the pie. He grown up in the Mid-City slums. His father broke his back working in a factory and his mother toiled in a sweat box sewing clothes she could never afford herself. Rocky’s older brother was working in the same factory that crippled their father. His sister was working as a waitress. Trying to save up money to go to nursing school. She’d probably never make it. Rocky felt all it was all a suckers game. He’d started stealing what ever he could get his hands on by the time he was twelve. His mother looked down on the money he brought in. Not his father. His dad knew like Rocky did. A man does what he has to for his family. Legal or otherwise. That was the way of the world.
“Impressed kid?” Mac asked as the walked between high stacked rows of crates.
Rocky whistled. "So, whatcha keep in here?”
Mac winked at him. “Little bit of everything. But it ain’t why we’re here tonight.”
“Nope.” Mac shook his head. “Follow me.”
Rocky trailed behind Mac to the back office. The young gangster’s heart skipped a beat as they entered. Seated behind the desk was Diamond Bill Gavin himself. Across the desk from him was an unlucky mug tied to a rusty metal chair. A rag stuffed in his mouth. Flanking them were some of Diamond Bill’s top guys. Rocky knew the big man was going to be here tonight, but he hadn’t figured on anything like this. Who was this poor sap?
“Mac about time you and the kid got here.” Diamond Bill stood.
Rocky swallowed hard. This was the first time the big man had ever said his name, much less even seen him. Mac had never mentioned telling Diamond Bill about him. The whole setup was starting to make him worry. Had somebody found out?
Bill Gavin was a bull of a man. Broad shoulders with thick arms. His jet black hair was slicked back. His eyes narrow slits that spit icy daggers. He walked around the desk, sitting on it’s edge. Making the metal groan under the man’s weight.
“This here is Soapy boys.” Diamond Bill said. “Say hello Soapy.” He pulled the gag from the man’s mouth.
“Please…Please…Mr. Gavin.” Soapy babbled the second the gag came out.
“Mr. Gavin. The shoeshine boy calls me Mr. Gavin. You Soapy…You don’t get to call me anything.”
Soapy starts to weep. A finger to Diamond Bill’s silencing him.
“Be a man.”
Diamond Bill turned to Mac, Rocky and the others.
“Ya know why old Soapy is here boys?”
The assembled gangsters remained silent.
“He thought he could take what was mine. Muscle in on my territory.”
“No. No. I didn’t know.”
Diamond Bill slaps Soapy hard across the face.
“Don’t lie little man.” Diamond Bill pulls a coin from his pocket. “This here is the first bit of money I earned. I worked hard for a full week. Cleaning that old man’s store for him. Don’t even remember the codger’s name. At the end of the week he gave me this coin and told me to get lost. I worked my ass of for the old creep.”
He holds the coin up studying it.
“One crummy coin for all that work. He’d didn’t even tell me I’d done a good job. I burned the old bastards store down the next night.”
Rocky watched as the big man flipped it. The coin catching the overhead lights as it turned end over end till it dropped back into it’s owner’s hand.
“I learned working for a little bit of dough and respect was a sucker’s game. One you can’t win.” He turns the coin over in his hands. “You got to take the money and respect for yourself. Don’t wait for someone to give it to you.” He held the coin in front of Soapy’s face. “See the big nick here? Out of the fellas’ face?”
Soapy choked back a sob as he nodded.
“Had the coin in my breast pocket when Sheamus Farrell tried knife’n me years ago during the Five Blocks War. If it wasn’t for this sucker…I’d be six feet under.”
He flips the coin again. Sending it high into the air. “The way I see it, this little coin carries all kind of mojo in it. I likes to consult it on big choices.” The coin landed in his outstretched palm. “What do ya think I just asked it Soapy?”
Soapy’s voice cracked as he answered. “If you’ll let me go?”
“That ain’t it kiddo.” Diamond Bill shook his head. “I was asking it, should I cut his finger off or his toes.” He snapped his fingers. “Mac, get the clippers.”
Mac hurried out of the room. The only sound in the room was Soapy as he sobbed and pleaded louder then before. Bill seemed to be relishing this. The others perhaps to shocked or scared to speak remained silent. Mac came back after countless minutes holding a large pair of metal clippers. He hands them to Diamond Bill.
“I got to respect you for trying take a piece of the action for yourself kid. It’s admirable. But you tried to take what was mine! You thought I was weak because of this Scorpion! That’s my territory! I worked for that!”
Soapy shivered visibly in the chair.
“Your young. There’s time to learn. I’m gonna teach you a big lesson tonight.”
Mac stuck the rag back in Soapy’s mouth. “Can’t have you biting your tongue off Soapy.” He laughed.
Diamond Bill opened and closed the clippers with a loud metal sigh. “Let’s see…what little piggy will it be? Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…I choose you!”
With the clippers, he lopped of the thumb of Soapy’s right hand. The blade of the clippers stopped as it hit the bone. Forcing Diamond Bill to apply more force. This was followed by the bone of crunching as they were pulverized by the blades.
The young thug screamed into his gag as his thumb was clipped off. Falling to the floor with a wet thud. Rocky felt something warm hit his cheek. Staring there dumbstruck, he didn’t realize at first that blood from the stump of where the thumb had been sprayed on his cheek.
Growing up in the tenements of Starlight’s Mid-City, Rocky had seen his share of violence. He’d gotten into plenty of fights. Winning and losing in equal measure. Seen Willy one of buddies from the block get knifed in the gut and bleed out. Nobody bothering to help them. In all that time he’d never seen someone do this to another.
The blood on his face felt like acid on his skin. He wiped it off onto his sleeve. A large red smear on the fabric. Bile rose in his stomach as poor Soapy continued to scream into his gag.
Diamond Bill reached down and picked up the thumb. “Should we make it a matching set?”
Soapy, his forehead covered in sweat mixed with his own blood, shook his head back and forth.
“You learned your lesson?”
Soapy nodded violently in response.
“Good lad.” He said.
Diamond Bill put the clippers on the table. He stuffed the bloody thumb in Soapy’s jacket pocket then patted the young man on the head.
Bruno and Joey where tasked with leaving Soapy outside the Sister’s Mercy Hospital. Rocky watched them go. His heart was racing. What had be got himself into? If this all headed south tonight, that could be him in that chair. He wouldn’t get off with just a sliced off thumb.
Rocky stood outside. He lit a smoke. Listening to the water lapping against the docks. The air outside was hot tonight. The tenement he’d grown up in was a oven during the summer. Making sleep impossible. Many a night he snuck up to the roof with a blanket to try and sleep. Seemed like ancient times now.
Rocky looked up, something caught his eye. A brief shadow crossing over the stars in the sky. There was nothing up there though. It was just his nerves. Just his feelings of guilt.
He took a couple more puffs from his smoke before crushing it under his foot.
Inside Diamond Bill and Mac were joking with some of the others.
“Enjoy your cigarette kid?” Mac laughed.
Rocky heard the door he’d just came through burst open.
“Sure did.” Rocky said.
Behind him eight men in suits of white entered. They wore matching white fedoras and hoods over their heads. Each held a Tommy Gun. Ready to spit out fast lead death at the slightest provocation.
“What the hell is this?” Diamond Bill’s smiled turned to an angry scowl.
Rocky and the white cloaked men parted. Making way for man a long white trench coat and matching suit. Instead of a hood, the man wore a blank white mask.
“What going on? An new order is here.”
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