The Darkness Of Today
Every second that is wasted on the battlefield in a war, is every second that a wounded soldier is bleeding to death. Every chance a medic got to save a life, they got killed. As I sit in a bar and reminisce about the days in the war, I realized just how much my life changed.
I watched in horror as people died. I held people as they died in my arms. I came home from the war. And no one, not one person, knew the horrors that me and my fellow brothers in arms saw. No one even thanked us for serving our country when we came home. So here I sit, inside this bar with my flask in my hand drowning myself with pure alcohol flashing back to the war.
I start to feel the alcohol taking affect as it runs through my body. Someone comes in and sits down next to me. It is a scum bag of the streets; a scam artist who steels what little money the poor and those in poverty have and keeps it for himself.
"How 'bout it?" He says as he sits down next to me. I merely stare at him and look away. He orders a drink. Gin. He orders shot after shot as I gulp the whiskey from my flask.
"You might want to slow down there, chief." The bartender says.
"Oh shut up!" I snap. I can't even remember his name or the name of the bar I'm in. I then look over at the dirt-bag next to me. How neatly dressed he is. With his crisp hat and pressed suit. I compare myself to him and realize I am dressed no different and smile to myself. But as I sit and stare at him, something in me changes. I become angry. A little voice in my head starts to talk in a dark, deep whisper.
"Do it," it says to me.
"No," I say to it. "I can't do it."
"Yes, you can," it says to me, "you know you want to. He's scum. He won't be missed."
An argument starts in my mind. My pure thoughts fighting that little voice. The small whisper wins.
Something in me snaps and I crack my neck with the turn of my head.
"Hey buddy, you okay?" the scum bag asks.
"I'm fine," I snap.
"If you're going to blow my head off, then do it! I dare you" Marc hissed. Molly was serious. She cocked the hammer back on her gun.
Marc let out a crooked smile. "Molly, Molly, Molly....you've clearly underestimate what a former soldier can do." Marc reached quickly for her gun. He slapped her hand loosening her grip. With his other hand he grabbed the gun, kicked her back, just hard enough to push her away. Marc stood up and disassembled her gun throwing it away behind him.
"You have no proof that I killed your brother. And I know I didn't. So unless you have proof, go home."
Molly stared at him, her face turning several dark shades of red, flushed with anger and rage.
"You have no idea what you have just gotten yourself into, Marc." She said quietly, "and I assure you, that I'm not done with you."
And with that, she left leaving Marc confused about what happened.
Molly paused outside his building, rolling her neck as she reviewed her options. The nerve of Marc to deny he had killed her brother. Well, if he was so high and mighty, should she let him deal with her...contacts...in the city mob?
Too easy. She needed someone smarter than the common thug, someone she could trust to be both intelligent and ruthless. Flipping open her wallet, she dug for one hastily scrawled number, and went to use a phone box.
The phone rang once, twice...then a deceptively pleasant voice sounded.
"Hello, darling." Molly said, and was pleased to hear a sharp intake of breath that could only mean she had caught the man off his guard.
"As we never truly divorced...after all, a murder attempt isn't legally binding... I do remember you vowing to try to achieve my happiness at all costs. I need a favor."
She waited in silence for her husbands reply.
Marc was more than furious. He was being accused of something that he had nothing to do with. Molly walked out and Marc threw the phone from his desk at the wall breaking it into pieces.
The man had never felt so much frustration. So much rage. And anger! He screamed at Molly even though he knew she was no longer in the room. With him. Swearing and cursing at her behind her back. If that was the way it was going to be, then fine.
Marc knew that Molly wasn't dumb. He had a safe-house hidden deep in the city. Not even his closest contacts knew where it was. Marc grabbed his car keys and stormed out the door.
The first place he stopped was at his apartment. He grabbed clothes, his toothbrush/toothpaste, and all his other essentials. He would not be going back here for a while. He reached into his closet and pulled out his briefcase and popped it open. Inside where the pieces to his M1 Thompson. Or better known as "The Tommy Gun". He closed the case and grabbed is bag full of clothes and essentials.
--At the safe house: location-deep inside the city--
Marc slammed the door closed. He closed the windows and curtains. It was dark inside. He lit candles for light. If someone was too look for him, he knew he'd be safe here. At least for a short time period; a month or so.
When it was dark he left his safe house. He was going to find some information on Mr. Nicholas de Maltese.
"Marc...has been hearing a voice?" Molly said, her green eyes narrowed. With an impatient sigh, she through the door open, revealing a deep blue silk nightgown.
"Marc has been hearing voices." she said again, and it was not a question. She advanced on the woman on her porch. "And you didn't report this to anyone? Perhaps a psychologist? Someone who could help him before he decided to shoot up my family? So the person to blame here would be you!"
She stopped, raising a hand to her face, tapping one slim finger against her cheek as she thought.
"Oh, I see." she said, a small smile quirking the corners of her mouth. "He sent you here, to tell me some cock-and-bull story. What are you doing, Grace, buying him time? Its too late, I've already made the pertinent arrangements. Marc won't be stomping around over our lives like a god much longer, I can assure you of that."
Marc walked into the small dark pub in the south side of the city. It was nothing compared to the Tricky Mister Bar but a lot of Mafioso came in here. One group in particular was a small mob called the Gambini Crime Family. If they could even be called mobsters. No. They were more like gangsters. The only reason why Marc had never killed them or locked them up was because they supplied him with valuable information when needed.
Marc made his way to Vinny Gambini who sat with his right hand man. "Marc! How great to see you. Here have a drink," he said sliding a shot of gin to Marc, "how are you, my good friend."
Marc grabbed the glass of whiskey and took the shot. "I need some info on a Nicholas de Maltese."
"Who? Maltese?" Vinny gave a look as though he had never heard of him. He repeated the name a few times. "Isn't he the sister of that Molly Maltese?"
"If I'm not mistaken" Marc said. "Or so she claims, he is her sister."
"I don't know a lot. I know he was a scam artist. I may be a criminal but he did things that pissed me off. During the depression a few years ago, he somehow stole a few thousand dollars from some big corporation that was helping out the homeless. I'm not exactly sure what all he did, I just know he got away with it."
"I already knew about that" Marc said. "Do you know of anyone who might have wanted him dead?" Marc asked.
"Wanted him dead? No. I know he didn't talk much about his family except his sister Molly. I'm not exactly sure how close they were." Vinny said.
Marc nodded and looked down at the table. "Damn" Marc thought to himself. everyone knew he was a scam artist but no one knew if anyone wanted him dead for the money he stole. Marc grabbed another shot of gin and then left without a word.
"I'm going to have to dig deeper than I thought." Marc said to himself as he left.
Riza Hawkeye sat back against her chair in the darkest corner of the bar and kept staring at the glass in her hand. Around her on the table there stood about twenty more glasses. What was she doing? She never drank. Never. But here she was, having consumed most likely enough alcohol to kill a person in one sitting.
It’s true what they say about alcohol. It does dull the senses a bit. Or in this case, a lot. Riza shook her head, still trying to determine if she imagined what she had seen last night.
Last night she had been in the back of the bar. What she was doing there she couldn’t remember. Though she could still remember vividly what she had seen through the small dusty window in the back. Marc, and the man who owed her money. Marc’s crazed eyes. Marc beating the crap out of the scumbag. Two shots fired right through him. The familiar-looking woman arriving. The rain.
The scenes came in flashes, and refused to leave her mind. Even after threatening the bartender with death, he only gave her more to drink, never the explanation she demanded. Why?
As Riza stared into her glass, she saw also the reflection of the full moon. Nighttime. Had she really been here for a whole day? She stood up slowly, wobbling in her stilettos, feeling as if the alcohol was about to come right back up. She pushed out through the front door and stood in the brisk night air, letting it wash over her. She was already feeling better.
The office was dark. There was no one inside. Riza bit her lip. There had been no one at his home either. Where could he have gone? Suddenly something dawned on her. That familiar-looking woman. It was Molly!
Ten minutes of clickity-clacking boots later, Riza found herself outside Molly’s home. Seeing the door ajar, she quickly pulled out her pistol. Sidling her way in through the dark front door, she sensed movement.
“I’m your only hope of finding him,” Riza heard an unfamiliar female voice say. “Freeze!” Riza screamed as she knocked the door fully open, and trained her pistol on the two women standing there. Molly had her gun trained on a young girl.
“And I’m absolutely sure it was him. Though he furiously denies it. I’m going to kill him, just you see. He killed my brother. But this girl here says he’s crazy. So what am I supposed to believe?” Molly finished explaining angrily, ten minutes later.
“It was him. There is no doubt that it was Marc who shot and killed him,” Riza said quietly. “But also not him. Have you ever seen…someone whose eyes were just so wild that you knew they had finally snapped?”
Grace and Molly stared back in silence. Molly took a deep breath, and composing herself, said, “Fine. Just fine. Grace, I believe you then. So where is he? We need to track him down. Even if I’m not killing him, I am going to have a nice little talk with him.”
Riza smirked just a little, knowingly. “Count me in.”
Molly and Riza turned toward Grace expectantly. “Speak, woman!” Riza demanded.
"We find Gambini." Molly said in a low tone. "Convince him to tell us what he knows."
Riza nodded once, a curt bob of her head, before she turned to look at the woman retreating away from them.
"Hey, you-" Riza said hotly.
"Grace." Molly whispered.
"-Grace!" Riza finished, pointing one finger at her. "Come here!"
Grace came back to them, a little nervously, Molly thought. Any other time she would have grinned. Now her cat-shaped green eyes were fixed steadily on the woman.
"You've never met the man, but you know where we can find him." she said. "Marc had to have gone to one specific location long enough that you know where to look."
Grace chewed her lip. "I can't be sure, but it seems to me Marc always headed straight for the Tricky Mister if he wanted to find this Vinny guy."
Molly nodded at Riza.
"We check there first." Riza said, then looked at Grace again. "And you, you're coming with us. We'll take my car."
She couldn't register so much as a complaint as they headed as one body towards Riza's car.
Presently, they unloaded at the Tricky Mister, Molly pausing to adjust the smart black walking-suit she had put on before they left the house. She flipped open the clasp of her purse, pushed her tiny wallet aside and methodically pulled out a pair of black silk gloves, which drew stares from the other two.
"You know, if you come in lookin' like a looker, they'll be way more eager to tell you what you want to know." She said to Grace in particular, who was curling her lip in thinly veiled disgust. Dismissively, she tossed her cascade of red hair over her shoulder and led the way into the dimly lit bar. She wondered idly to herself if anyone would notice if she just up and shot Grace. The woman had quite the nasty attitude that she had never noticed before.
She pushed open the door, her lamp-like eyes searching the place curiously before they landed on the bartender, Cyrus Tibby. Smoothing her skirt and letting a little smile twist over her lips, she sauntered over to him, noting to herself in an amused way how much time she seemed to spend in low-brow drinking establishments.
"Cyrus, darling." She said by way of greeting, placing one delicate, slim-fingered hand over his, which was wiping down the bars surface with a rag. He looked up as she approached, and the way his chest puffed out and his whiskers bristled told her she would have all the help she needed.
"My love." she said, letting her voice drop slightly into a husky alto. "I need you to do me a favor."
He looked as if someone had just come in to announce he was a distant relative of the Rockefellers and would be inheriting their fortune.
Molly just smiled and looked up at him through her lashes. "I need you to find me Vince Gambini."
His face dropped comically.
"I knew it was too good to be true." he said gruffly, then braced his beefy forearms on the counter and fixed her with a hawklike stare. "Look, lady. I'm not mixing myself up in whatever business you've got with the Gambini family."
"No?" Molly pouted. "I assure you, it would be well worth your while."
Like a magnet, the aging bartenders eyes were drawn to the flirting V of her shirt. Molly frowned slightly, then raised one eyebrow as sweat beaded on his forehead. Her hand paused in the act of delving into her purse to retrieve the wad of bills she had set aside for this purpose. The moment stretched on, and on, Molly's surprise growing into blatant disbelief and incredulity. Experimentally, her other hand went to her thigh, but Cyrus was quite caught up in his own thoughts and didn't notice. Smoothly, she drew her pistol and with a bored expression, shot down a bottle of liquor that stood just beyond his head.
He jumped with a yelp, and Molly looked around to notice that almost every patron of the bar had whipped assorted firearms out and were staring at her, alert for any signs of trouble.
"Oh, relax." she said crossly to the room at large. "I'll pay for it."
With an impatient noise, she smacked the wad of bills on the counter between Cyrus.
"For your damn bottle. And the information I asked for."
Cyrus hesitated, and Molly's green eyes narrowed.
"Do not think I won't shoot you." she said calmly, tapping her pistol against her leg. Cyrus paled, and then leaned over the bar to whisper something to her before pocketing the wad of bills and moving as far down the bar from her as he could get.
With a vulpine grin, Molly holstered her gun and put her hands on her hips.
"Tough crowd, huh?" she threw over her shoulder conversationally at Riza, before picking her way delicately through the scattered tables and chairs to the back corner where two men sat, cigars in their mouths. She turned to look back at Riza, her eyes zipping to the man nearest to her and back to Riza.
Distract him, she mouthed. With a nod, Riza stomped over and pulled the man up by the collar.
"Hey. Buy me a drink." she said politely, and hauled him away.
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