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.
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.
(lol. Thats weird)
"Vince Gambini, I presume." Molly said, taking the other mans place across from the dark-haired thug. He looked up from the glass in front of him and frowned at her.
"You're bein rather rude, kitten. You must not know who I am, if'n you think its acceptable to act that way."
"Yes, yes, you're the toughest thug ever to walk the streets of New York. Even La Cosa Nostra is terrified of you." Molly said dismissively. "Faaaaaascinating, I'm sure."
"Damn straight." Gambini said, puffing out his chest. Apparently he was not one for sarcasm.
"Alright, look, you unpleasant leech. I need to find my...friend Marc. You know him, I know him, joy and rapture abound..." Molly's jovial smile dropped from her face. "Now tell me where he is."
"No can do, doll. Now why don't you get up and walk out straight the way you came in? I'm done talkin' to you." he said, squinting his eyes.
Molly cast her eyes at the ceiling, and made a decision. It seemed only one thing worked with these people.
With a sigh and a gentle roll of her neck, Molly got up and sauntered slowly around the table moving to stand behind the chair Vince occupied. It was pinching her uncomfortably against the wall, and her feet were killing her, but she had always prided herself on being an excellent actress. Leaning over, she placed her slim hands on his shoulders, kneading her fingers gently as she moved her slick red lips to his ear.
"What a way to talk to a lady." she said, playfully, her voice a silky murmur. "Just when I had decided I liked you, too." Her hands slipped from his shoulders down to his chest, and cat-like, she draped herself delicately across his shoulders.
"Oh, is that the conclusion...you reached?" he asked, his tune changing in an instant, Molly noted wryly. She also detected a slight slur in his speech, which ought to make her job much easier.
"It is indeed. But you know, my mama always taught me, never waste your affections on any man but a gentleman."
That wasn't strictly true, Molly thought, her chin resting on the mans shoulder. Her eyes were fixed on a stain high on the opposite wall; it was a lot more interesting than this man who smelt of stale smoke, sweat and booze. Besides, her mother hadn't said a damn word about a gentleman, her primary concern was money.
"I...I can be a gentleman." he said, his tone petulant, and Molly rolled her eyes, before fluttering her lashes against the side of his face.
"Oh is that so?" she asked breathlessly, planting a tiny kiss just under his ear before she irritatedly, yet discreetly, removed an eyelash from her eye.
"Yeah." He stood, and Molly nearly lost her balance before recovering nicely and fixing him with her most smoldering look. "Lets go into that alley back there and I'll show ya."
It took all of Molly's will to keep the look of disgust from twisting her face. Instead, she smoothed her hands over her hips and said, "I think I'd like the rooftop better. Less chance of being...interrupted."
Vince Gambini seemed to agree, because before she could quite process, he was yanking her up a dark stairwell. She looked around the first landing, and the second. It seems the two stories above the bar were a couple miniscule apartments. Welcome to New York. Space was limited, you built up, not out.
Suddenly a rush of cool air smacked her in the face, and Molly rolled her neck again.
"Come here, doll, and show me--"
She never really did bother to find out what Vince wanted to see, because she had decided to shoot him in the knee instead. He fell to the ground with a strangled yell.
"You are disgusting, did you know?" she informed him conversationally, grabbing him by the tie and pulling as hard as she could towards the roofs edge. He had to push himself along awkwardly or be strangled by his own accessory, so she didn't really have to do that much work.
Suddenly she dropped him and pointed her gun at his other leg.
"Tell me where to find Marc or you'll never walk again." she said pleasantly.
BANG! A fine spray of blood and a yell. Molly twirled the little pistol around her index finger before looking down at Vince again.
"You really oughtn't waste my time. You're running out of limbs."
"His...safe house! Its a few blocks from here, on the corner of 11th and 34th! One of the rooms above the old grocery store, thats where he goes!" Vince babbled, tears streaming most unbecomingly down his face. Molly looked down at him with clinical disinterest.
"You really are a terrible friend, you know." she said thoughtfully. "Marc won't be thanking you. In fact...yes. I think I'll push you off the roof, now."
Vince screamed, but she merely pushed up her sleeves and began to roll him closer and closer to the edge of the rooftop.
"Boy, you're heavy." she grunted, hair falling about her face and sweat beading on her forehead from the exertion.
"I'll tell you anything you wanna know! I'll do you a favor, anything! Just don't do this-"
His arm was hanging over empty space now, but Molly paused and cocked her head.
"Oh good." she smiled and clapped her hands. "Here's the favor you can do for me."
Vince looked up at her, doughy face eager in the pale light.
"You may give the Devil my regards." And with one well-aimed kick, Vince Gambini was gone.
Dusting off her hands, Molly went to the door and raced down the steps, tapping Riza on the shoulder from where she was engaged in an enthusiastic drinking contest with the man. She collected Grace as well.
"We should go. Now." she said, hustling them out the door and into Riza's car without further delay.
(Excuse the error- I used the name Vince when the guys actual name is Vinny. My bad!)
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