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hvysmker
March 16th, 2020, 08:45 PM
It was relatively quiet for a workingman's bar. Since customers often preferred privacy, the barroom was darker than your usual such establishment along with curtain-enclosed booths lining the rear. The music, obtrusive but soft, served to mask many whispered conversations. The year being 1930 -- long before television -- only casual walk-in patrons sat at the bar itself. Prices of drinks were purposely excessive, also serving to keep those casual customers away. It was more of a work location than one meant for leisure or, heaven forbid, partying.


The bartenders were mostly ex-cons, the place being designed for a particular type of workingman -- not of the legal persuasion.

One back room was set up different than the others, insulated by a thick layer of lead covered with a sound-absorbing composition. It contained no electrical outlets, electrical lights, or telephones -- no breaks in the walls through which radio transmitters could be hidden. A professional outfit swept the entire enclosure weekly, looking for such doohickeys. In addition, three different brands of portable scanning devices lay on a shelf to be used at a renter's discretion. Many customers used them on each other before meetings. It was considered a safe room for private conversation. For that matter, so were the booths in the barroom, though not swept as often.


Although legally registered and with a license to serve alcoholic beverages, the establishment possessed no real name or logo except for tax purposes, no sign outside and only a blank storefront with bricked-in windows. If and when customers talked about it, the place was only referred to as "there," or "you know where" as in, "Hey, Mo. Let's meet there at about eight? Okay?"

The bar with no name was one of several supposedly legal businesses in a large building set in a destitute neighborhood of south Chicago. The mob owned the entire structure. Except for the drinking establishment, the place was used for storage -- not all of it honest goods. A large basement under most of the building held a pistol range and a row of dismally dim rooms looking suspiciously like confinement cells.

Like the drinking establishment upstairs, the range was a registered business, supposedly open to the public though not advertised. Blasts of firearms disguised noise from the smaller rooms. If a mob member were to be picked up and his hands given a paraffin test for gunshot residue -- which is about all the police had at the time -- he could say he'd spent time at "the range" and be backed up by the management.

Sammy Musscosolvo grew up in that neighborhood. Now an adult at 25 and 6' 4" he carried 230lbs around when naked and in his stocking feet. Sammy possessed a natural talent for picking pockets, one he'd consciously practiced since the age of ten. The young man was also fast on his feet and had outrun many a policeman -- thus avoiding a police record. In his neighborhood, that was in itself an anomaly.

He worked at the bar with no name as a bartender and bouncer, sometimes pulling security on the storage facility. Since the place employed at least three more young thugs on a good night, Sammy mostly looked imposing as he poured drinks. For some reason, possibly groping customers, female bartenders and waitresses never lasted long.

***

On the night that drastically changed his life, Sammy happened to be leaning on the bar next to Slink Thompson, listening to the second-story man bullshitting about partially-existent adventures while both sipped whiskey and munched on corn chips taken from a large wooden bowl between them on the bar.

At the time, the place hosted only a sprinkling of drinkers, with most of the booths open and empty, gaping curtains shifting in the breeze of three large overhead fans. Occasionally, Sammy would walk down the bar to fill an order for a serious drinker. He didn't believe in answering gestures from tables or booths. Let them come to him, Sammy figured. With his size and demeanor, few complained.

So Sammy didn't raise an eyebrow when three men came in, two large along with a thin young shrimp. They settled into a back booth. He did notice as the shrimp raised his arm and waved. Sammy smiled, returned the gesture, then turned back to his buddy. A minute later, he heard a thumping. Raising his eyes, Sammy saw the shrimp pounding a fist on the table. The bartender replied with a middle finger.

Sammy did notice one of the men looking uncomfortable as the largest guy leaned over the table to hover over him, holding the other man's chin in his fingers.

Back to talking to his pal, Sammy saw Slink staring, face shining white in the dim light. Looking up, he saw the barrel of a pistol a few inches from his own face.

"We want some drinks over there, punk. And I mean right fuckin' now."

Since the shrimp was standing close, on the other side of the wooden structure, and his pistol even closer, Sammy grabbed both. Bracing knees against his side of the heavy bar, he pulled the asshole over, gun and all -- forcing Slink to bolt to avoid their spilled drinks. Raising the 150 lb man over his head, Sammy carried him around the bar and over to the booth.

As Sammy approached, the larger man saw him and released his victim. Drawing his own revolver, he turned toward the approaching barman.

"This yours?" The bartender threw the shrimp down on the table. As the package hit, shattering two table legs and collapsing it, Sammy grabbed the revolver, twisted it out of the large man's mitt to throw across the room.

Before the two gunmen could rise, Sammy pulled both up by their throats, huge fingers and thumbs joining behind their necks. He opened the front door by slamming the shrimp into it, then tossed both out onto the sidewalk.

Ignoring the shattered booth, a fairly common occurrence there, he returned to the bar and Slink.

"Ya know who those guys were?" Slink asked.

"Uh, uh."

"The two you tossed work for the mob."

"Fucks like them?"

"Yeah, and that guy over there is Dick Daley, the Democratic precinct captain of this ward. Word is, he's gonna be a county treasurer."

"Fuck politics ... and politicians. I don't never vote, anyway."

About that time, the still nervous victim, Richard J. Daley, came to the front of the room to get a drink. Probably feeling he needed one.

"Jack and soda ... please. Uh, heavy on the booze."

While Sammy poured the drink, Daley continued. "Look. Thanks for the help, but do you have a phone? I better call the police."

"You wanna thank me? Do it by calling from down the street, uh? We don't like cops in here."

Daley nodded. Taking the drink into two shaking paws, he plopped his butt onto a stool, figuring the call could wait.

A few minutes later, after watching Sammy closely, he motioned for the man to come over.

"Nother?"

"Yeah. And there's a cool sawbuck in it if you listen to me for a few minutes."

"That's what I'm here for." Sammy shrugged, both he and Slink moving closer.

"Alone, but ... here. Buy your pal a drink." He plopped another bill onto the bar.

After Slink moved away with a fresh drink, Daley began. "You like your job?"

"S'okay. Pays the bills."

"I'm a precinct captain, Democratic party. Listen, I could use a guy like you ta' keep guys like those off me. Especially now." He grinned, then lowered his voice, glancing at Slick. "Now that they got my girlfriend." He paused. "It pays well. Very well."

"I dunno'. Like for how long? This one's regular, ya know?"

"I'm talking about Civil Service. If I get the job of deputy treasurer, that means very secure – probably for life."

"A job for life? Who I gotta kill?" Sammy was joking. Daley wasn't.

"Whoever's got my girl. Your first task will be to get her back."

"Gimme a while to think, uh? Frank's been good to me. I hate to leave him."

Daley gave him a business card. "Call. Soon."

***

Sammy had been working for Frank Agliconi, who owned the bar and its associated structure. Frank was, himself, under John "No Nose" DiFronzo. Besides the promise of a city job for life, Daley would pay him a bonus for the rescue. So, the offer was hard to refuse but, not wanting to make powerful enemies, Sammy began by questioning his own boss, Frank.

"It's not us doin' it, that snatch, Sammy. I'd know if it was. Tell ya what ... I'll put out some feelers. It might cost ya, though?"

"How much you figure?" Sammy was having second thoughts. Promises were one thing, money from his own pocket another. "I ain't got much, ya know? You don't pay shit." He smiled at his boss, making a joke of the admission.

"Depends. It won't be nothin' less I gotta pay. I gotta pay, it gets passed on ta you."

"Suppose so, Frank."

"Why ya wanna know about the girl, anyhow? Ain't no skin off your ass, is it?"

"Favor for a friend. At's all. A favor. You don't have'ta use a lot of effort, uh. Just ask around, like. Okay?"

"What's her name?"

"Sally. Sally Simpson. Works for the city, somewhere or other."

"Why they got her?"

"Dunno. Her boyfriend didn't say."

The next day, while at work, Sammy received a phone call. The voice didn't identify itself, only asked for the "Big Russki a'hind a bar."

Then he asked, "Got a pencil? Check out 11745 South Halsted. Apartment 212.

"Should be three guys, punks loosely connected to Joey Aiuppa. Very loosely. He don't know their names, even. Don't give a shit 'bout 'um. Those guys ... dime a dozen." Finished, the snitch hung up.





A call to Daley at Democratic Ward headquarters found Sammy with a new job.

Frank happened to be in the office, so Sammy went in to tell him. Also that he was quitting, giving his customary two-weeks notice.

"A job with a city? Hey! Good deal, Sammy." Smiling, Frankie reached up to shake the bartender's hand. "Tell ya what. This's a good time ta take care a it. I'll call Jerry in ta work tonight. You can pick up your pay Friday an tell me how it goes, uh?

"Tell ya what, though. Ya get at job, remember old Frankie, will ya? Ya might be able ta do me a favor sometime."

"Sure thing, Frank. You been good to me. I'll be good to you."

"When Jerry gets in, ya might as well take off. I have a replacement ta train, a'ready. Hey! An good luck with at rescue thing. Ya need a couple guys? I can have them here in a half-hour? Ya'll have'ta pay them yourself, though."

Sammy paused. "Na. I can handle a few punks."

"Just a minute." Frank checked a couple of desk drawers, bringing out an army .45 pistol. "Take it. It's clean, I think, an I got more. Took it off a drunk once."




***




The building turned out to be one of those large European-style square brick monstrosities from the last century. Due to elevators not being popular at that time and that renters refused to walk higher, the building was only four stories tall. The neighborhood was deteriorating, but not all that badly yet.

Sam stood across the street between two buildings, avoiding illumination from a light-pole while smoking a cigarette and watching a second-story window. He looked like a copper, smelled like a copper, and was treated like a copper by passing pedestrians -- avoided.

After an hour of standing, littering the sidewalk with half-smoked butts, he had seen three different men inside the apartment but no females.

Sammy wasn't particularly interested to see a young woman dressed in Levis and a light jacket on the far side of the street. He paid her little attention as she approached the building carrying a cloth grocery bag.

She didn't bother to look in his direction as she entered and moved out of sight. A few minutes later, though, the same woman stood in front of the lighted window while taking off her jacket and then embracing one of the men.

Surprised, Sammy's cigarette dropped from his mouth. He hadn't seen any other female in there. Was it the Simpson girl? If so, why was she kissing her kidnapper?

Pissed, Sammy realized it must be a setup. He was large, barely educated, but not stupid. Either Daley was putting something over on him or she was putting something over on Daley. And Daley had no reason to screw with Sammy. He barely knew the guy. They must be, Sammy thought, fucking around with the politician.

Fuck it, the whole fucking thing, Sammy thought. He should go home, call Daley tomorrow then see Frank about getting his old job back. Fake political kidnapping shit was too complex for a knock-around guy like him.

Then he saw the slob she'd been smooching slap the girl several times, her then falling out of Sammy's sight. That was a shade too much for the already angry ex-bartender. He was gonna at least earn that bonus money by bringing her back -- even if Daley hated him afterward. Kidnapped or not, he was bringing the bitch back with him.

The carpeting had worn bare from wooden stair-treads, sounding like rolling thunder as the large man barrel-assed to the second floor. The sound still reverberated down the hallway as Sammy found a door with a plaque numbered 212.




He stopped, breathing hard and feeling the effort just long enough to brace himself before raising a size-fourteen extra-wide shoe to smash the wood below the lock to kindling, the entire door slamming inward.

The living room looked to be 20'x20'. Sammy went in with so much force that he didn't stop until ramming into a small man wearing trousers and a dirty white undershirt.

Spying a movement at his left side, he spun to see another punk, a much larger one. That one's eyes were bugged in surprise. Although the butt of a revolver stuck out of his belt, he was holding a cup of coffee in his right hand. While the punk was trying to resolve that problem, Sammy hit him with the smaller bastard, spun at the big bruiser by one arm.

The woman sat alone on a couch, a glass of liquid splashing at the intrusion and as shocked as the others.

Hearing a toilet flush from behind another door, the ex-bartender called out, "If you wanna live, you better keep your ass in there." Walking over to the mound of flesh, he jerked the revolver out of the one guy's belt, then hauled the two to their feet. "Over there. Sit with the broad and shut the fuck up."

Backing up to the hall door, he covered the three with both the revolver and his own pistol. "You! In the shitter. Come out with your hands in the air."

"I like it here," came from the bathroom.

"Out! Now!"

The last goon shook visibly, leaning one hand on a wall to support himself on quaking legs as he came through the door. Sammy motioned him to the couch with the others.

"You're in trouble, buddy," one of them said. "We's on the Aiuppa team."

"Shit. I'm shaking in my shoes," Sammy replied. "Specially since I already spun this by Joey and got his okay. I hear he doesn't like his guys branching off on their own like this. Hope you have a good explanation. For him, not me. I don't give a fuck."

That shut them up. "You. Girlie. Let's go."

"I don't have to go wit--"




It turned to a scream as Sammy stormed over, ignoring the men, and jerked her to her feet. One slap is all it took to quiet her down. "Let's go. Fuck the jacket."

"I'll kill you for this," the former hug-ee said, making a funny-looking face at Sammy. "You talk tough, holding all the guns."

Sammy smiled. Not giving a shit, he tossed the revolver onto the loud-mouth's lap. "feelin' frisky, hoss? Go ahead and jump."




As the formerly blustering hood sat silently, refusing to touch the firearm, Sammy motioned his own head toward the hall door. The woman took the hint and left, followed by her so-called rescuer.

At the foot of the stairs, Sammy and the woman had to move aside as three rain-coated men pushed past the two. He recognized one from the bar as Freakie Freddy Falconi, one of Capone's men.

Not waiting for gunshots or screams to commence, Sammy hustled the girl toward a well-traveled intersection from where he quickly flagged down a cab.

"Where we going?" she finally asked, out of breath.

"To find a phone and call your boyfriend. Your other boyfriend, Dick Daley."

"I should have known."

"What the fuck's going on? Not that I give a shit. I done my job."

"They kidnapped me." She reached over to kiss him on the cheek. "I can't thank you enough for rescuing me."

"Make sure you tell that story to Daley."

"It's the truth."

"Bullshit. I watched you coming back from the store and kissing that punk. Like I said, tell that to Daley if you want." Sammy scowled at her. Leaning close, he continued, "His love life ain't none'a my business. But you screw around like that again and I'll make it my business.




“You got you a pretty face now, babe. You wanna keep it that way, don't fuck with either one of us." He sat back in the seat as they rode in silence. "Pull over," he instructed the cabbie, "by that phone over there."

Sammy stood with her, watching the girl as she called Daley -- telling him a sob story. After that, she gave the taxi driver an address to a small frame house all the way on the north-side that was probably the politician's. At least his name was on the mailbox. When they arrived, Sammy let the girl out. Seeing her enter, he took the taxi home.



I don’t want to post the entire story here. If you want it, I’ll IM it to you.

----------------

This novel follows the life and career of Sam Muscosolvo from his job as a mob bartender in the thirties through to after retiring in the eighties. He worked as a police patrolman in Chicago, then both a police, then later, private detective, running his own agency. At one time a member of the American Social Democratic party, also known as the Nazi Bund, he later helps throw half the Chicago chapter in jail. Although originally a bigot, Sam marries a Japanese girl and hides her from authorities when Japs are forced into camps during WWII. Wife Tamiko adds to the story as she ends up having not only local police but the FBI after her.

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Hvysmker – Charlie

midnightpoet
March 17th, 2020, 12:59 AM
I'm a sucker for noir/hard-boiled stuff. My first novel, back in the eighties, was about a private dick in Dallas. It was panned basically because I had too much background and too many characters; personally I'd start with "Sammy M-," but that's just me.
I liked what Raymond Chandler did to L.A. and I tried to copy it for Dallas since I knew it so well; bad idea, but it taught me a lot. Yeah, I'd like to read yours.

hvysmker
March 17th, 2020, 12:27 PM
I liked what Raymond Chandler did to L.A. and I tried to copy it for Dallas since I knew it so well; bad idea, but it taught me a lot. Yeah, I'd like to read yours.

Thanks, midnightpoet. I'll IM you a copy.

I have an action novel based in Dallas, although I've never been there. A Dallas resident said I was correct in naming locations. There are a few things about US cities that rarely vary. I looked for large hotels and locations of business headquarters. That gave me the business district. Since there will be many low income workers, there will have to be cheap living quarters nearby. I looked for short streets and dead-end streets a few blocks from the business district, assuming blocks of old residential buildings. Much of them owned by developers for later use. They'd be rented out to pay land taxes until used for modern structures ( my novel takes place in the fifties.)

Because of the noise and space needed, airports are usually built at the edge of rural areas. Although food is expensive, all large terminals have cheap food outlets for their lower-level employees. Look for them in out of the way locations.