Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The Mob War Part 6: Friday, June 10, 1926

In Upstate New York

Dr. Black, Johnny, and Judge Putnam decide to tie up their formerly invisible assailant and drive him back to Staten Island for questioning. They return to the judge’s property without incident. The judge’s new personal security force is skilled enough at their jobs to know to not ask stupid questions about the man tied up in the back seat of the car.

The assailant doesn’t reveal terribly much under questioning, other than that he has been sent by Anne Chantraine to kill them all for $100 a head. Johnny goes to fetch a shovel and prepares to get down to the dirty business of getting rid of their assailant, while Dr. Black employs his tried and true, “scalpel stab to the shoulder” method if interrogation to get more information out of the man.

This doesn’t work, and the sight of so much blood pouring out of the man’s shoulder inflames Judge Putnam’s already barely in check bloodlust. Dr. Black realizes his grave error just in time to keep Judge Putnam from feeding on their imprisoned assailant, and Johnny returns, shovel in hand, to find the two men wrestling around on the floor.

Johnny very quickly takes control of the situation, sends the judge upstairs into the carriage house to compose himself, and orders Dr. Black to clean up the garage. Johnny then takes the assailant to Atlantic City and takes care of him.

At Vitale’s

Ron, thinking better of it, asks Kane to help him carry the man who attacked them into the gym’s basement. They do so without anyone in Vitale’s, apart from Vivian, noticing that they have done so. It seems that the rest of the made guys are too badly freaked out by both the breach of mafia etiquette and the horrors recently on display in the men’s room to notice anything so mundane as two guys carting a third guy down into the basement.

Vivian remains in the main room, which means that she is perfectly situated to hear an argument that starts just outside the gym’s front door. Peeking her head out Vivian sees Jimmy Russo (Big Jimmy) accosting the second of the two suspicious men that she spotted earlier (he went outside, while his friend went into the bathroom to ambush Ron and Kane).

The altercation draws the attention of several other made guys, but also of the two cops who have been following Ron around in their totally inconspicuous, unmarked cars. Vivian notes that the older cop, Dougherty, seems a bit too friendly with Jimmy Russo, and suspects that he is on “Big Grin’s” payroll.

Vivian goes down into the basement to warn Ron that the cops are right outside. Ron acknowledges this, but it doesn’t prevent him from playing reasonable cop/psychotic cop, with Kane and their assailant, whom he has just tied to a chair with some old jump ropes.

The assailant quickly gives in to Ron’s intimidating demeanor and slaps to the face. He tells them that he is working for Anne Chantraine, and that she has promised to pay them to take care of “the seven people she don’t like, in particular.” The man adopts a very tough demeanor, and clearly doesn’t seem to realize, or understand, how badly over his head he is.

Ron ultimately decides to work the guy over a little bit, go through his pockets, and then turn him over to the cops outside. On his search, Ron finds a small vial containing a bluish liquid. He notes that the man has no wallet or identification.

Kane, Ron, and Vivian cart their captive assailant up the steps and out the front of Vitale’s. Dougherty seems pleased that both men are caught, and offers to take the two men down to the precinct for processing. The other cop, a younger man who seems like a bit more of a straight arrow, asks if he needs help with the two suspected criminals, or if he would like to perform anything remotely resembling proper police procedure at Vitale’s. Dougherty insists that the younger cop remain on the scene with Ron. Dougherty promises to take the two suspects down to the precinct and will “be right back.”

The younger cop doesn’t notice that Jimmy Russo hops in the car with Dougherty and the two assailants. Viv points out that two assailants have literally no idea how fucked they are as Dougherty drives away.

Ron decides that it is high time that they get the hell away from Vitale’s, and that they need to meet up with the rest of the team.

A Meeting with Don Bernouse

Ron calls around and tells everyone to meet him at the Bernouse residence. He has a plan, and he thinks the London Group needs to meet and share information. Johnny is willing to drive the judge and Dr. Black over. Mikhail, who is home alone researching mind controlling magic, is also happy to attend.

It turns out that Ron’s big plan is to invite all seven members of the London Group into the Bernouse house for an impromptu meeting with Vincenzio Bernouse, Viv’s father. He tells Luca of his plan and, while Luca balks, he goes to fetch the “old man” anyway.

About fifteen minutes later, Luca and Vince join the London Group in the dining room. Ron and the others proceed to fill Vince in on the mafia-related shenanigans that have occurred, while studiously leaving out the magic-related shenanigans. Vince agrees with the group that “Big Grin” has completely lost control of his outfit, the Chantraine lady and her goons are messing everything, and that the attack inside of Vitale’s was definitely a bridge too far. He promises to call the heads of the other families and schedule a meeting to discuss these issues.

While Vince is talking to the heads of the other families, Luca and the London Group go to a steakhouse for dinner. While there, they catch one another up on what occurred earlier in the day and try to make plans for later. Mikhail explains that he thinks that Anne Chantraine is using mirror magic to hypnotize or mentally dominate her lackeys. He thinks that it might be possible to end this domination by blocking line-of-sight contact with any mirrors she’s using. Ron shows off the small vial of liquid, which Johnny suspects is the same type of invisibility potion that the Ossining attacker, and Mikhail’s unseen assailant, used.

Toward the end of the meal, Vivian gets a call out at the host’s stand from her father. Vince tells her that the heads of the five families will be meeting at the Astoria Hotel, later tonight, at 8 pm. He says that he wants her and her friends there, in case one of the other families tries something suspicious.

Vivian informs the others. They all proceed home to gear up and get dressed up in their glad rags for a night at one of New York’s more expensive hotels.

The Astoria Hotel

The group arrives at the Astoria Hotel to find that several made guys are already congregating in small groups outside, trying to blend in with the posh folks who are either staying at the Astoria or dining at one of its many restaurants.

It soon becomes apparent that only the dons of each family, plus one bodyguard, will be permitted to enter the meeting. Vince takes Ron with him for protection, ordering Luca to wait outside with the others and watch for signs of trouble. Johnny, who at this point is loaded for bear, quaffs the invisibility potion and follows Vince and Ron inside.

The others take up positions both inside and outside the hotel. As far as they can tell, nothing strange or untoward is going on.

“Big Grin” Bianco is the last of the dons to arrive. The group and the mafiosi in attendance are shocked to note how diminished, enfeebled, and confused Don Bianco looks as his bodyguard very gently coaxes him into the hotel for the meeting.

The location of the meeting is a ballroom on the second floor. A table and five chairs have been provided for the dons. They all sit, with their bodyguards standing just off to the side and behind them. Ron is fascinated and disgusted that “Big Grin” needs help getting to his chair.

The three other family heads (Gambino, Luchese, and Genovese) are all extremely elderly men, but all of them seem to be much more on the ball than Don Bianco is. They start lambasting Don Bianco for his inability to control his men, and for allowing his girlfriend to run amok in Family affairs.

As they begin to discuss the unfortunate implications of the attack on Vitale’s earlier in the day, Ron and Johnny both notice that the walls of the ballroom are covered with mirrors…

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