A story of Greed, A Girl, and Gangsters in the roaring 20’s.
Three things a gangster will kill for.
Greed, a Girl, and Revenge.
For all three he’ll start a war.
read an excerpt
Irish mobster Jack “Legs” Diamond was among the most wanted men in the mob. For fifteen years he had survived multiple attempts on his life. He was severely wounded in several of the attempts but never failed to walk away, thus earning him the notorious nickname “Legs”.
Rival mobster Dutch Schultz once exclaimed to his gang “Ain’t there nobody that can shoot this son of a bitch so he don’t bounce back?”
On December 18th, 1931, Jack Diamond was shot three times in the head at 5:30 in the morning in his bed in Albany, New York.
The gunman was never identified.
Three months later
New York City, Manhattan
February, 8th, 1932
8th Avenue and 23rd Street drug store
“Twenty five thousand or Richie disappears. Its that simple Owney. You play ball with me and this all goes away, easy. You don’t, then something different happens.”
Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll Rolled his shoulder and sniffed, feeling the cocaine drop into his system. With his left hand he held the phones receiver to his ear and with his right hand rubbed his thumb and forefinger together, smudging away the powdery white.
A spare glance from a bloodshot eye caught the clerk glaring at him from behind the counter, but the man didn’t say anything. Vincent knew he wouldn’t but he glared back anyway until the schlub turned his attentions elsewhere.
Then he jerked the curtain closed across the booth entrance and turned his eyes to a speck on the wall, awaiting Owney’s response.
He fully expected the rival Irishman to blow up at him and start spewing counter threats. So it was no small surprise he didn’t. And his measured tone took Vincent aback, the way a man will who’s expecting a fight and finds none. He let it bolster his courage.
“Why you doin this Vincent? What is it you fuckin want from me huh?”
There was no fight in the words, but there wasn’t any give either.
“You know what I want Owney, just give me the fuckin mone…”
“No, what the fuck do you really want Vincent? Why you doing this to me man? First Big Frenche, now my brother in law? You wanna start a war with me is that it? Cause you know I’ll give you one.”
Vincent started to speak but Owney went on.
“But I don’t want a war Vincent. I want to talk.”
The coke was making him ancy, and he wanted another drink. Wanted to be back in the club.
But he wanted to make his play even more.
He needed to make it.
Because they needed to understand.
Vincent didn’t realize he must have said it aloud because Owney went on.
“What do I need to understand Vincent? Tell me? Is this about that shit from last week? Cause I didn’t have nothing do with it. And if I did you’d have fucking known it. Thats between you and Dutch. Whatever beef you got with him ain’t with me. You understand?”
Vincent didn’t believe half of what Owney just said. Him and Dutch had been mighty chummy lately, wasn’t exactly a secret.
Coll wanted to lay into him some more. but Owney’s tone kept compelling him to talk, the way you did when somebody said something and you had to say something back and couldn’t let it go.
It was only in the distant back of his mind that he knew Owney Madden didn’t usually play that way.
He was up to something. And it irritated Coll that he didn’t know what.
“Yea, yea it is with you Owney. Its with me and you, cause you gotta respect.. ..”
The Irishman made a loud sound of disgust that reverberated through the receiver, like somebody gave him beef tips on toast instead of a T Bone.
“Eh don’t give me that shit! You want respect motherfucker you gotta give it…you..”
“I run my own crew!”
Vincent said shouting him down.
He knew he shouldn’t have raised his voice so much but he also knew he was getting too far gone, his temper flaring.
“Been running my own crew for three fucking years now. I don’t fucking work for nobo..”
“Well whoop-dee-fucking-do! You run your own crew! That don’t exactly make you a boss asshole. You oughta know that Maddog.”
“Don’t you fucking call me that! I had had enough of that shit! You know it was never supposed to go down like that.”
Vincent snarled, shifting from the present to the past without a pause, the way men did when they were half drunk and angry. But Owney followed.
“Well it did VIncent, it did go down like that.”
Owney’s voice went down a notch while Vincent glared at the wall and he could almost see Owney pointing his finger at him.
“A lot o things go down in this town Vincent, we do a lot o things. We lie, we cheat, we steal. We kill when we have to, now I don’t know what fucking outfit your running with, but we, us, us guys, New York? WE DON’T FUCKING HURT KIDS YOU MOTHERFUCKER! YOU DON’T DO THAT IN THIS FUCKING TOWN!”
They were both roaring now. And pointing,raging at each other through the wall and distance.
“WASN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN OWNEY! NOT LIKE THAT! YOU KNOW THAT!”
Vincent ruffled through his vest and snorted, hating the way things always went back to that. He yanked out his time piece, shifting his weight, and sniffed again, loudly.
The coke was rushing through him now, and he was wanting a cigarette now on top of the drink.
He suspected his guys were too, since he heard the drug store entrance door open and someone enter.
Vincent almost dropped the watch as he tried to do two things at once while talking. And his words came out a sputtering curse.
He shoved the time piece back in his pocket and tore the phone away from his ear.
“JUST A FUCKING MINUTE! I’LL BE RIGHT THERE!”
Tony didn’t answer.
But he heard a voice mutter something, and the clerk muttering back. Then more foot steps, measured and slow.
The more sober minded and less drug addled would a found that a tip off.
But there was no such tip off for the Mad Dog.
There was only Owney still yelling into the phone, and even with the receiver inches awayhe could hear it.
And he was in no mood to let it go.
“NOW YOU LISTEN TO ME YOU SON OF A BITCH!”
He roared, then tried to wipe his chin, feeling spittle on the receiver.
“Twenty five fuckin large Owney. That’s it. No more. And I don’t give a shit about no dead fucking kid you hear me?”
“No I don’t fucking hear you.”
“Cause I don’t fucking hear anything on this line. And I’ll tell ya something else. It ever occur to you why I kept you on the phone so long you sad sack o shit? Cause I’m Owney fuckin Madden that’s why, and I don’t hear shit on the other end o this line. I’m talking to a dead fuckin line”
Vincent dropped the phone, slamming it to the wall even as he felt the adrenaline hit his system like a flash flood behind the drugs and the same hand went for his pistol.
But it was too late. And he knew it.
Even if it was all moving in slow motion, he was still seconds behind.
And Vincent Mad Dog Coll knew he’d been had.
The last split seconds of life left him furious, and curiously carrying the scent of a cigarette he’d been craving so badly, into eternity.
The roar of the Thompson submachine gun rattling off on full auto was monstrous.
Even yards away across the counter, the clerk was still deafened, except the for a deafening ring drowning out the silence.
And the confines of the phone booth within became a horrorshow, blessedly concealed from sight except for the beckoning holes in the red spattered hunter green fabric.
A pool of blood on the floor was already seeping out, pressing indelibly toward the shooters pristine patent leather shoes.
Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll would be found crumpled like a twisted bloodspattered puppet, crammed inside the booth.
Fifteen .45 Caliber rounds were still in the body.
Twelve more had passed through it, lodging in the wall.
The shooter turned, and took a last drag from the cigarette between his lips, letting the smoke slither into the air toward the ceiling as the gun barrel dipped toward the floor, held firmly in his right hand.
He his head was cocked just so, as he stepped away from the scene, his shoes avoiding the red pool. And he took in the stunned gaze of the proprietor.
With measured, confident steps he left the dark of the alcove and returned to the light.
He was dressed immaculately in a black tuxedo, wrapped in an expensive black trench coat, well groomed, sharp features obscured by a matching fedora.
Features obscured, except for piercing gray eyes taking the measure of the paralyzed proprietor as he passed by.
“Be cool now.”
He said reassuring..
And Mickey Donovan Darling left calmly, leaving the death scene behind him, disturbed only by the tinkling bells of the closing glass shoppe door.