|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.58(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By Ken Filing
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2013 Ken Filing
All rights reserved.
TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE FIRE October 1936
"Hey George, why aren't you at work today?" called Michel to his neighbor.
George climbed out of his old Ford and answered "Aw Mikey they had a big lay off at the mill. I think it has to do with all the union talk that's been goin' on lately. Any of us guys that showed up at the meeting, strangely enough, got laid off today."
"Hey, I told you George. Don't associate with that tough bunch of guys. Unions will come, but you got to do it right. What're you gonna do now?"
"Well I'm not gonna work on WPA like you are. I'm gettin' too old and they work your ass off out there. There's other ways to make money."
"Be careful George. Don't do anything you'd be sorry for."
"Don't worry I can handle myself."
George left Michel and went to his side of the duplex where he lived with his wife and children, two teen age girls and one eight year old boy. He had to break the news to his wife about the layoff notice. His last pay check was in his pocket.
Michel went into his side of the duplex, where he lived with his wife Stefania and two small children, Dante, five years old and Maria, three years. To help pay his rent, he rented out the third floor to his cousin Alfonso and his wife Gina for ten bucks a month. Every bit helped in this day and age. Stefania had just announced that a third child would be coming in about 7 months.
Michel rolled his eyes when she told him but he knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. They had married quite young, both were strong healthy adults and they were also Catholic. She was happy being a doting mother and Michel loved her very much in that role. They had a good marriage. If only the job market would loosen up. He was learning carpenter work on the WPA. The pay wasn't good but the experience would be very helpful when things turned around.
"Hi Steffy. What's for supper?"
"Beans and potatoes, lover boy, but I was able to get a ham hock to cook with them so it should be good. Also mom gave us a fresh loaf of bread that she baked today."
"Sounds good, I'm starving. Some day, I'll buy you a steak baby."
"Yeah, promises, promises that's all I get" she said smiling and giving him a big hug and kiss.
He laughed and kissed her back.
"Hey did I see you talking to George? He's not usually home from the mill this early" she asked.
"Yeah, it's not good news. He got laid off today."
"Oh damn. What's he going to do?"
"I don't know. I hope he doesn't do anything foolish" he answered.
"And what did the busy little housewife do today? Any excitement?" he queried.
"Well I had coffee at Aunt Rose's with mom and Gina. While we were having our coffee that sleaze bag Guido stopped to see if we wanted to play the numbers. Aunt Rose played her house number, 509, for a dime and mom boxed 511 for a nickel. I told him I was broke. Gina gave him an earful when he gave her the eye. Ol' Gina doesn't take any guff from anyone. She doesn't care if he is in the mob."
Michel laughed "Guido's just a gofer for the mob. He thinks he's a big bad guy but he shakes in his boots when some of the real mob guys are around."
"Yeah, but that kind of idiot is dangerous, when he thinks he's got the upper hand. Always trying to prove himself to the big boys" she said as she shuddered "I don't trust him and he gives me the creeps"
"Don't worry honey, he knows better than to bother you."
The cool fall days passed quickly. Michel's old high school team, Sharon South, was playing for the city championship. His brothers, cousins and he were all going to the game tonight and cheer them on. Michel was a big star for the team back in his high school days.
The four of them hopped in Michel's Model A and took off for the game.
Stefania yelled out as they were leaving "Don't get into any trouble you guys. I know how wild you get at those games."
"Don't worry honey. South is going to murder them tonight."
It was a good game and South did win but not by much. The boys were all in a good mood as they were leaving the stadium.
"Hey Mikey" came a call from the crowd.
Michel turned around and saw it was his neighbor George. George was smiling and seemed very happy. He was with some very tough looking men.
"Good news Mikey. I got myself a job."
"Hey that's great George. Where ya workin'?"
"Well Guido's movin' over to Youngstown. He'll be collecting from the runners and I'm takin' over his south side route."
Michel stared at George and glanced at his friends. He slowly said "Oh, that's good George. That's good. See ya around I gotta go."
He quickly joined his brother and cousins and hurried to his car.
Nico said "Geez Mikey did I hear right? Is George going to be a numbers runner? That doesn't sound right to me."
"Not good, Nico. Not good. I didn't want to say anything with those toughs around but I'll talk to George tomorrow. My theory is to live and let live with the mob. You can't antagonize them but you shouldn't make deals with them either."
When they got home and Michel went into his house, Stefania greeted him. She said "Hi honey. Did South win the game?" "Yeah they won. It was a good game."
"Then why are you lookin' so down cast? Somethin' else wrong?"
"Yeah.... kinda. I saw George at the game and he was with some toughs from the Youngstown mob. He's gonna be a numbers runner for them."
"Well honey, they need the money and I heard from Bianca that they get paid on a commission. Maybe it will only be until they get back on their feet."
"You already heard?" Michel asked.
"Yeah, Bianca's girlfriend told her. That kind of news travels fast" she said.
"Well I don't mind playing a number once in a while. Everyone does but that's as close as I want to be. Let's go to bed."CHAPTER 2
THANKSGIVING DAY 1936
Michel and his family spent Thanksgiving with the rest of the Gianini family at his mom and dad's house which was on the other side of the duplex from Aunt Rose. The two Gianini brothers, Giuseppe and Enrico, had bought the duplex after moving from a small town near Philadelphia where, they had originally settled after immigration from Italy.
As with many in those times, they moved to the "Rust Belt" and worked in the steel mills, so prevalent in that area. Michel's dad, Giuseppe, left the mill and was doing well as an insurance man.
Michel and Stefania had moved in with his folks when they married and planned to stay until they could afford to rent on their own. These were depression days and work was hard to find. After two children were born they just had to find a place. When the west half of the duplex next door became available, Michel felt that they could just barely afford it on his WPA wages, so they moved. It was great because they were still close enough that Michel's mom could help Steffy with the kids and Michel could pick up a few bucks doing odd jobs in the neighborhood. He was quickly becoming a good carpenter.
Michel's other brother, Giuseppe Gianini Jr., they called him Joe, started making plans to open a bar downtown in the basement of an old building. He wanted to name it "The Cavern Night Club". He would pattern it after a German rathskeller that he had frequented during Prohibition. He had the place rented, and had been working on fixing it up for months. He told Michel that he could earn some extra money tending bar there if he wanted to.
But Joe was having one very large problem. His request for a liquor license was being held up and he didn't know why. He could open in a few weeks if he could get the license. This was his dream and he and Bianca had been saving every penny they could both earn ever since the end of Prohibition in 1933. Joe had worked at a speakeasy when booze was still illegal, so he knew how to run a night club.
He told his story of woe to his brothers, Michel and Nico, that Thanksgiving night. Neither brother had an answer for him.
The next day, Friday, was a no work day so Stefania sent Michel to Abraham's Grocery on Taylor Street to pick up a few groceries. He was walking back home with Dante in tow a few steps behind him when a police patrol car pulled up next to him.
A gruff voice called out through an open window on the passenger side "Hey Gianini, com'ere."
Michel stopped and turned towards the car. With narrowed eyes he said "Yeah, Delaney, what's the problem?"
In a loud retort "It's Lieutenant Delaney, wise guy."
"Okay ... Lieutenant Delaney.... now ... what's your problem?"
"The problem ... is with your stupid brother Joe. He's got a crazy idea that he can open a bar in this town without going through proper channels. Tell him to see me tonight at 8:00 at Romeo's Ristorante. He knows what to bring and he better be there if he knows what's good for him."
"Yeah, yeah I'll tell him. He also got a visit from the "protection boys". Seems like, everyone wants a piece of the action."
"Don't get smart with me Mikey. You've managed to keep your nose clean so far, so I'll overlook that last remark, but things can change very fast if you get too smart. Just remember that."
"Okay" he said "I'll pass the word."
The Lieutenant pulled his arm back inside the car, nodded his head and the patrol car sped off with a squeal of rubber left on the road.
Dante looked up at his dad with big, frightened eyes and said "Daddy, who was that mean man? I don't like him."
"Don't worry little guy. He won't hurt you. He just thinks he's tough."
"Yeah but you're tougher" said the little boy looking up adoringly at his hero. He reached up and took his dad's hand and they both turned and walked away.
After they got home and Dante went next door to play with his buddy Sonny, Michel asked Nico if he knew if Joe was working at the Club today.
Nico said "Yeah he was but Pop said that he's on his way over to line up some insurance on the place."
"Good, I've got to talk to him about the other kind of insurance."
"Wadda ya mean, Mikey? Pop's the insurance man."
"Nico you're a little too naïve yet. In this town you've got to cut in the mob and the cops both. They work in cahoots with each other. Joe's gotta see Delaney tonight if he wants to get that liquor license."
"Oh yeah, now I see what you mean. I hope Joe can open his place. He promised that I could help clean up the place and maybe wait on a few tables. I'm broke as hell. I just met a nice girl and I'd like to take her to a movie or something."
"It could be good for all of us Nico, especially with people dying to go to clubs now that prohibition is over.... Oh good I see Joe pulling in now."
Soon the dapper middle brother walked in the kitchen door. All three brothers were good looking but Joe patterned himself after Rudolf Valentino. He was a real ladies man but Bianca kept him well in tow since she hooked him. That didn't keep all the ladies from swooning over him when Bianca wasn't around. But Joe knew when he had a good thing and he just laughed it off. Bianca was a good looker too and she had been known to stand up for her man. Woe to the babe that got in her way if she thought someone had their sights on Joe.
"Hey Joe, we gotta talk" said Michel.
"Sure thing big brother, what's on your mind?" answered Joe.
"That Irish mick Delaney stopped me on South Street today and said you gotta see him. I think it's about the license."
"Yeah I know. I had to raise the cash first but I got it now. Where's he want to meet?"
"Where'd you get the dough? Nothin' foolish I hope."
"Don't worry. It's legal. I got a big commission on a new account for the towel company. I've had it coming for a while but they were holding it back until the first delivery. I raised hell with them."
"Well I hope you didn't piss them off too much. You still need the job until the place gets rolling."
"Naw. They know I'm the best salesman they got. I told ya, don't worry, I'm safe. Where's the jerk want to meet?"
"Where else? ... Romeo's. He's in their back pocket as deep as you can get. He said eight o'clock."
"Okay, I'll handle it. Where's Pop? I gotta get some legit insurance too, the real kind, not the street kind."
"He's waitin' for you at his desk in the house. I think he's got a policy lined up for you for the joint." Michel said.
"Okay. Talk to ya later. I'll let you know how I make out with Delaney. I know he wants his cut before I get the license, plus whatever kinda crap he might enlighten me on." Joe said.
As Joe walked away, Michel slowly shook his head and murmured to himself "Boy I sure hope Joe's not gettin' in too deep."
He went inside to spend this off day from work with his wife and little girl.
As he entered Steffy said "Hey I thought Danny was with you."
"He was but he went next door to play with Sonny. Danny really looks up to that kid. He's a good boy and even though he's only a couple of years older, he watches over Danny."
"Yeah, the whole family is nice. I sure hope George is okay with this new thing he's doing."
"It's not good Steffy. I hope it's only temporary but once you hook up with those guys, it's hard to break away."
That back door flew open and an energy filled 5 year old boy burst into the kitchen "Hi mommy ... hi daddy" he said in a voice that came out of a little mouth sandwiched between two bright rosy red cheeks.
"Hey, hey little guy, slow down.... what's the big hurry?" Michel asked.
"Well when I was playing jacks with Sonny, Mr. Edward asked if you were at home and I said yes and he said he wanted to talk to you so he's coming over" out came this torrent of words without a pause.
"Okay, okay. Is he coming now?"
"Yeah, I think so. He was putting on his coat, Daddy why does Mr. Edward have two first names George and Edward?"
Michel chuckled "Well Danny, Mr. Edward's mommy and daddy came from a country far, far away called Lebanon. When they came to America on a ship they stopped at a place called Ellis Island to ask if they could live here. When the man said they could he asked their last name and since the man couldn't understand the unfamiliar name spoken in a foreign language he said I'll just write down Edward and that will be your American name. That's kind of the way they did it with all the people from countries like Syria and Lebanon. That's why the man at the store on Taylor Street is called Mr. Abraham. Do you understand?"
"Yeah.... kinda.... I'm going back and play with Sonny" as he ran out the door "Hi Mr. Edward. Come on in, my daddy's home."
A laughing George Edward stood in the doorway "Man, wouldn't it be great to have all that energy?"
"Come on in George" said Michel as he too chuckled.
George entered and said "I just wanted to ask about Joe, Mikey. Is he having a tough time getting a liquor license for the new place?"
"Well yeah. You know the usual ones have their hands out, both the cops and the mob. Strange how they both have the connections to determine a government deal" Michel answered.
"It's a sign of the times Mikey, a sign of the times. Everybody does what he can to make a buck. Hey maybe I can help push it along. My brother Johnny is in from Philly and he has some connections down in Harrisburg. Want me to ask?"
"Yeah.... Sure it won't hurt and maybe Joe can get the place open one of these days."
"Okay, I'll see him tonight and see what he says. See ya later."
"See ya George and send my little guy home. It's time for lunch."
"Okay Mikey.... Will do."CHAPTER 3
Joe Jr. went into his mom and dad's house through the back door and into the kitchen.
"Hi Mom" he said as he saw his mother at the open oven door putting in loaves of bread for the evening meal.
She turned around "Joey! Come here for a hug. I don't get to see you so much anymore, since you've become such a busy man."
She grabbed him and kissed him several times.
"I miss you too mom but I gotta keep going if I'm gonna make it big.... some day."
"I know. I know. You wanna see Pop?"
"Yeah, I gotta get a policy going before I can get the license. Just seems like there's a million things to do."
"Go see Pop. He's at his desk and then before you go, I got some sauce you can take home to Bianca. Maybe she can use it for some pasta tonight."
"Thanks Mom. You still make the best sauce in town. See ya later."
He walked up the stairs to the second floor where his dad did his insurance work.
"Hi Pop. Did you work something out for me?"
"Yeah Joey, I got an application ready to send in to the company but I've already talked to them and its okay. How do you want to pay the premium, monthly, quarterly or annual?"
"Better make it monthly for now, Pop. I've got a few other expenses to pay and I'm not sure how much it will be."
"Yeah I heard you've got to see that mick Delaney. Well that's the price of doing business here."
"Here's the cash for the first month. After I get going maybe I can do better Pop."
Excerpted from Blazing Vengeance by Ken Filing. Copyright © 2013 Ken Filing. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.