The Detroit skyline twinkled with lights so bright that the stars were obscured in the inky black sky. Aidan nervously twirled a cigarette in his fingers as he waited for Evvie to finish getting ready. He tried to push away his nerves but failed with each attempt. The city spread below him like an enticing women, and Aidan looked down on her from his hotel window like a nervous virgin. In his wildest dreams, Aidan never believed that he would be here, when he began bootlegging all of those years ago. Yet, here he was. If they were successful tonight, Aidan was poised to take over Detroit. The Purples had recently destroyed all of their competition and if the police were able to take out the key leaders of the gang there would be a vacuum that Aidan could gladly fill. The legitimate leadership of Detroit would even welcome him. The only competition left in the mid-west would be from Chicago.
Still, Aidan had to first make it through tonight. He was nervous for one reason; Evvie. He had every confidence in her abilities, but her job was by far the most dangerous of the night. He had originally wanted someone else to do it, but she had argued vehemently until she got her way. While Evvie was not a fan of this little gambit of his, she was completely dedicated to seeing it work, and she was by far the best and most qualified person for the job. The women had legs, and she knew how to use them.
Aidan finally turned from the window, and lit his cigarette. As he inhaled the smoke, he looked up just in time to see Evvie exiting the bathroom. Aidan gripped at his chest, as he thought that for a moment, his heart stopped due to the vision that stood before him. Evvie was looking into a mirror as she secured a ruby earring to her ear. She stood with her hip cocked to the side and the floor-length backless black dress exposed the way her spine curved to her hips. The entire dress was covered in smoky black and blood red glass beads, arranged in geometric patterns that fell across her body like paint strokes on a canvas.
Aidan walked up behind her and saw that she was not smiling, but he leaned over anyways to kiss the crook of her neck, his lips ghosting softly over her skin. She looked up at him through the reflection with a serious gaze but her body betrayed her by trembling slightly under his lips. Aidan pulled away and used the back of his hand to softly touch her back, tracing the line of her spine from her neck to just above the curve of her ass. He watched his own hand as he said, “You ok? Cause you know you don’t have to…”
She interrupted him as she began to secure her other earring, “We’re committed.”
He nodded and leaned around her body to grab the ruby necklace that matched her earrings and gently slung it around her neck before securing it. After he was done, he let his hands run across her shoulders and down her arms as he sighed heavily. With a somber smile he looked up at her and said softly, “Evvie, you look beautiful. I love you.”
She did not return his smile, but turned toward him, and taking the cigarette from his hands, took a long drag. As she exhaled she said, “I love you too.”
Evvie turned to Aidan for one last kiss before getting into the back of the car. The kiss was soft, almost hesitant before she pulled away and said, “I’ll see you tonight.”
Aidan did not respond but simply watched her get in the car. When she turned back to look at him through the window she was struck by the complicated storm of emotions that spun in his eyes. His gaze held her and while his face seemed to be set in lines of confidence and determination, his eyes betrayed him. As the car pulled away, she turned to look out of the rear window to watch Aidan shrink from view as he stood watching the car drive into the distance. She only turned from the window as the car rounded a corner, obscuring him from her sight completely.
She looked forward at the two men who would act as her body guards for the evening, although she suspected that they probably wouldn’t be able to guard her very well against a barrage of bullets. Unlike Aidan, she did not feel particularly nervous about tonight. All emotion had been purged from her in the weeks leading up to this night and she now felt an acceptance that made her completely still. The only other thing that filled her was resolve and it made her feel heavy. She felt the car moving her across the earth, and she knew that the earth below her feet spun through space and yet she was the only unmoving point in the universe. She was so heavy that she exerted her own gravitational pull. She was a fixed point.
Evvie reached for her ebony pipe holder and lit a cigarette filling the back seat with a smoky haze. Through the cloud she watched Detroit pass her by with a detached stare. The night was damp and while it was not raining a fine mist filled the night. It covered every surface with a dewy sheen and it reflected the light of the street lamps. Every light in the city had a golden halo and she watched the kaleidoscope of brick facades pass by. As the car made a turn, Evvie noted that, visibly, the city had not changed, and yet she knew that she had entered the heart of her enemies’ territory; the Jewish District. She had no doubt that there were many eyes on her vehicle as she approached what looked to be a humble dry-cleaning business.
Evvie finished her cigarette and applied her mask. Despite her mood she wore her sensual smile as well as she had in times past. The car pulled to the curve and a man stepped forward from the doorway of the dry cleaners and opened an umbrella next to her car door. She looked to the men in the front seat and said, “Alright boys are you ready?”
They both nodded, stone faced, as they opened their own doors. The dark stranger opened her door and sheltered her with the umbrella as she stepped out into the damp night, taking the hand that he offered her. He greeted her as he lightly clutched her hand, “Mrs. Ikaros, The Purples welcome you. If you could please follow me.”
Evvie didn’t respond but fell into step behind her guide as her bodyguards flanked her protectively. They walked into the interior of the dry cleaners and she met a tidy waiting area and long counter. An old wrinkled man stood on the other side of the counter reading a newspaper. At his back hung lines of clothing and the air was filled with the smells of steam and lye. Her guide only paused to close his umbrella and confidently strode behind the counter and into an aisle framed by garments.
The man she followed led her beyond the racks of clothing to the back of the room where he knocked on a door and a peephole slid open to reveal a pair of eyes which only looked for a half of a second at her guide before opening the door. Evvie smiled to herself as she stepped over the threshold into one of the most luxurious speakeasies she had ever entered. The wood flooring was laid out in intricate patterns. The chandeliers hung from the roof with a crystalline magnificence. A forty piece band was playing, filling the large space with a wondrous sound. All of the serving staff were dressed to the nines and there was even a fountain, which currently had two girls swimming in it. Her guide again did not pause and swept her through the room to a large teak door. When he opened it, she stepped into a room filled with at least nine men, all of whom, she recognized. One of the men advanced and outstretched his hand in greeting. “Mrs. Ikaros, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”
She responded with her smoothest purr, “The pleasure is all mine Mr. Bernstein.”
Charlie heard the familiar voice of his sister come through the telephone speaker. “I’m alright.”
Charlie’s voice broke as he spoke the rehearsed response, “Stay safe.”
He hung up the telephone receiver and turned to exit the lobby of a hotel which was conveniently located near the residence of one Jack Wolfe. He sighed heavily, ignoring the pain from his still aching ribs, as he replaced his flat cap onto his head and walked out of the revolving door into the damp evening. He quickly made his way to the car where Aidan was awaiting him. He slipped easily into the driver’s side seat and spoke to Aidan as he started the car. “Jack Wolfe is at the meeting; the plan is a go.”
Aidan took the news without comment and simply nodded his head. No doubt Aidan was mentally preparing himself. Charlie pulled the car into traffic and began driving towards Jack Wolfe’s house in silence. Charlie was thankful for the silence. He found it difficult to talk to Aidan since his kidnapping. His one week timeline was up and if Aidan did not die by other means, Charlie would have to kill him before the night was out. The Purples probably had found it so amusing when they had been contacted with a request to meet with Evvie. Charlie wasn’t surprised when they demanded that the meeting take place the same night as Charlie’s deadline. Of course, Charlie had argued against it but, in the end, he was unable to offer up any good reason against it.
Charlie had played with the idea of telling Aidan, but every time he tried, Mr. Bernstein’ voice intruded onto his thoughts; Aidan doesn’t seem like the type that would run. He was right, of course. Aidan never ran away from a fight, and Evvie would never leave his side. Charlie believed in Aidan’s cleverness, but not enough to put Evvie’s life on the line, so he had kept quiet.
The hard metal outline of his pistol pushed against Charlie’s back where he had pushed it half-hazardly into the waist-band of his trousers and it made sitting uncomfortable. It was a constant, cold reminder. He shifted against the unforgiving metal and stole a glance sideways at Aidan, who was dressed in black from head to toe. His eyes stared out of the car but did not see. Instead, Aidan was probably running through all of the possible outcomes of the evening. Charlie wondered if Aidan had included a scenario where a family member kills him. Still, in Charlie’s opinion Aidan looked full of confidence. His eyes twinkled with excitement through the narrowed stubborn slits of his eyelids.
Charlie finally pulled into the alleyway that he had been dragged through only a week earlier. Without a bag over his head, Charlie could appraise the ambiance of careless disregard in the narrow alley. Stacks of crates, metal trashcans and rubbish lay in a pile to one side ending just under a small bathroom window that opened onto a narrow fire escape. Charlie put the car in park but did not turn it off as Aidan turned to him. Aidan did not say a word but simply nodded his head before silently slipping from the car. Charlie watched as Aidan began climbing the pile of trash, towards the window of Jack Wolfe’s house with a heavy heart, hoping that his brother-in-law would meet his death within this house, instead of by Charlie’s own hands.
Aidan wrinkled his nose at the smell of dead fish that wafted up from the trash can he was currently climbing. He jumped from a crate perched on the precipice of the rubbish heap and wrapped his hands around a bar that helped form the fire escape that clung to the outside of the building like a vine. Kicking his legs he was able to pull himself onto the platform until he stood in front of a small bathroom window. According to surveillance, this window was often open and therefore not likely to be locked.
He straightened his suit, before trying the window, which opened easily for him. Aidan crawled into the window with a self satisfied smirk. The house was dark and there seemed to be little activity within its walls. The halls were silent except for the muffled scratchy sounds of a jazz record which seemed to reverberate through the walls from a neighboring apartment.
He made his way downstairs quietly through the dark hallways to the rhythm of muffled jazz. He turned the corner and found the room he was looking for. Aidan opened the door to Jack Wolfe’s office and slipped around the perimeter of the room to a window which overlooked the street and closed the curtains. Surveillance had revealed that this was the room where Jack Wolfe kept his ledgers, and Aidan looked at the wall that his followers had said the ledgers were always stored. The window did not directly look on the wall but Aidan knew that they were hidden somewhere along that length of wall. A crowded book case covered half of the wall while the other half held a large art deco painting of a city skyline. Aidan bit his lip as he looked at the wall thoughtfully, not seeing the gun that was pointed at his back.
Evvie smiled as she slowly lifted her foot and placed it squarely in Mr. Bernstein’s chair within the area of his crotch. He did not flinch and continued to look at her in an amused way as the slit of her dress fell exposing the top of the her stockings and the garter belt attached to them. In the corners of her vision she saw a few men swallow hard as they looked at the long line of her leg. Her movements were slow and deliberate as she bent over and pulled the handful of small flasks out of the top of her stocking and placed them on the table. Mr. Bernstein snapped his fingers and a tray of shot glasses were brought forth.
Evvie began to poor out the contents of the flasks into the glasses as she spoke, “As you have probably guessed, I have come here to offer an alliance. The Ikaros gang apologizes if you feel that we intruded on your territory and we want to set things right. As you have probably heard, my operation is responsible for some the best moonshine in the Midwest. We would like to offer you exclusive distribution rights within the state as well as request for your protection from any other gang who may want to molest us.”
She looked through her eyelashes at each man as she circled the room handing out shot glasses containing some of her best moonshine. She finally settled in front of Mr. Bernstein and handed him a glass; his fingers brushing lightly against hers. He held her stare with amusement, danger dripping from his every movement and gesture. He wore violence like a coat.
He smiled as he lifted the glass towards her in a toast and said, “Sei gesund”
As Aidan climbed through the window, Charlie looked over his shoulder to back out of the narrow alleyway. His hands felt twitchy on the wheel as he circled the block to park in front of the diner that sat across the street from the house Aidan was currently invading. He once again put the car in park and looked around the nearly deserted street. He could see a few men seated in the diner eating easily in each other’s company. Charlie did not like the look of them and scooted lower into the seat.
Charlie turned to look back at the house and noticed that the curtains had been closed and knew that Aidan had made his way into the office. The room was dark and there seemed to be no activity in the house. That all changed when he saw the muzzle flash and heard the sound of a gunshot ring out into the night. Charlie felt his heart climb into his throat, chocking him. Movement in his periphery made him turn back to the diner. Charlie had not been the only one to notice the gun shot and the men who had been happily eating were now standing and looking at the house across the street with narrowed eyes. They didn’t begin to move towards the door until the second shot rang out into the night.