Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Mob War Part 7: Friday, June 10, 1926

NOTE: The following episode recap describes an extremely messy, protracted combat in two locations. Viewer discretion is advised.

As a reminder: Ron and an invisible Johnny are upstairs in the ball room with the heads of the Five Families and their bodyguards. Kane is out front with Luca and most of the other enforcers. Vivian is in the Astoria dining room, near the front entrance. Judge Putnam is in the lobby, standing beside the fireplace. Dr. Black is seated in a chair near the access door to the stairs, reading a newspaper. Mikhail is out in the back of the hotel.

The Astoria Hotel

A Million Monkeys Hammering on Chicago Typewriters

Out behind the hotel, Mikhail hears the screeching of several tires. Down an alley, he sees three large, black cars driving down the street and turning quickly onto the road leading to the hotel. Mikhail, concerned that this is the beginning of something very nasty, runs into the hotel and tells Dr. Black.  Dr. Black runs past Mikhail and out the back door into the alley.

Out front, Kane, Luca, and several of the other mobsters hear the screeching of tires and start to get nervous. Kane draws his gun.

Moments later, the three cars pull into the horseshoe driveway in front of the Astoria Hotel. Several men get out of the cars and, using them as cover, open fire with tommy guns on the fa├žade of the hotel. Patrons and staff scream and flee, while the mafia out front return fire. Kane and Luca use a concrete planter for cover and manage to avoid being struck by any of the suppressing fire.

As the men ditch the empty drums from their tommy guns and reload, a horde of men armed with shotguns leave the car and rush into the hotel. They are delayed by the hotel’s revolving door, but are aided by the fact that the hail of automatic weapon fire has more or less shot the front windows to pieces.

Kane and Luca return fire, killing three of the attackers with relative ease.

Vivian, who is inside, sees Giacomo, the young mafioso that treated her like a literal princess earlier. She urges Giacomo to come with her and hide inside of the restaurant’s former bar (now currently an ice cream parlor). The pair hide until most of the panicked crowd has left the restaurant. Then Vivian and Giacomo flee into the kitchen and up a set of access stairs to the second floor.

Dr. Black, hearing the shots, races down the alley into the backstreet and pulls the nearest fire alarm. He then proceeds to run back to the back door of the hotel, hoping to enter and aid his friends. He is disturbed to see that the panicked patrons and staff, intent on fleeing the massacre in the front of the hotel, are rioting and stampeding, trampling one another in an attempt to exit the building. Dr. Black puts his plans on hold and does crowd control, turning the rout into a more orderly exit and saving many lives.

Now That's a Lot of Guns

Mikhail, realizing that he can turn the hotel’s broken revolving door into a choke point for the invaders and, ideally, a kill zone, moves to intercept the shotgun-toting heavies before they can get into the building. He is aided by the judge, who takes up a position near the fireplace and unloads first his shotgun cane, then his handgun, into the men trying to push through into the hotel.

Judge Putnam is shot and grievously wounded by one of the shotgun-wielding invaders. He remains conscious, and retains just enough of his strength to drag himself into the unlit fireplace for protection. He has an overwhelming desire to lap up the blood of friend, foe, and bystander alike that has collected in several pools around the lobby, but he is far, far too weak to reach them.

Mikhail fights off the attackers with sword and handgun. Unfortunately for him, his handgun jams at a critical moment, allowing the invader he is fighting to smash him in the temple with the butt of his shotgun. Mikhail collapses unconscious and heavily concussed.

Kane and Luca swing around and attempt to bring their weapons to bear on the invaders that have stepped over Mikahil’s prone body and are pouring into the lobby. Both of them miss. One of the attackers fires his shotgun at Kane, and likely would have killed him had not Luca pulled the singer to the ground and taken the brunt of the shotgun blast in the back. Luca falls unconscious, crushing Kane beneath his massive, refrigerator-like bulk.

Smoke and Mirrors

Upstairs, “Big Grin” Bianco is both grilled and castigated by the other family heads. Ron notices that “Big Grin” seems to be trying to pull himself out of his fugue state, and seems to have done so once Don Genovese has gone up one side of him and down the other.

Don Genovese concludes by saying that he is appalled at the attack on Vitale’s Gym—a long-established neutral ground—and warns Bianco that his actions could lead to a mob war. He goes on to say that the rest of the families have attempted to keep things civil for as long as possible, because the last time they all went to war with one another, innocent people died. Don Genovese, Gambino, and Luchese all nod their condolences to Don Bernouse, whose wife, Maria, was one of those innocents.

“Big Grin,” who by now seems more in command of his faculties, apologizes to the other family heads. He tells them that he doesn’t know what has been going on, but he will do whatever it takes to make it right. The other dons inform him, in no uncertain terms, that he must deal with his new girl, Anne Chantraine, and get his outfit under control.

Johnny, who has been keeping a careful vigil on the room, notices the mirror on the north wall beginning to darken. Suspecting magical shenanigans, he fires a single shot from his future gun, damaging the mirror but not destroying it.

Everyone in the room looks up in shock as a very large image of Anne Chantraine appears in the damaged mirror. She taunts the men assembled in the room and tells them that she would very much like to be the “capo de tutti capo” of New York city. The dons of four of the five families all scramble to understand what’s going on.

“What is this?” shouts Don Luchese. “Some kinda moving picture?”

“In color?” yells Don Gambino.

“With sound?!” cries Don Genovese.

“Big Grin” Bianco simply remains in his seat, vacant again and exhausted-looking, and says to no one in particular, “that’s my girl…”

His Girl

Realizing that the family heads are not going to turn over control of the city to her, Anne sarcastically comments that she expected that, and is more than willing to do things the “hard way.” This coincides with the beginning of the assault out in front of the building. Those assembled for the meeting, already panicked by Anne’s magic, scream in terror as a fusillade of gunfire pours into the front of the Astoria Hotel. Dons Gambino, Genovese, and Luchese are all ushered out of the room by their bodyguards. Ron pushes Vince out of his chair and onto the carpet, the better to keep him in cover, and then grabs the back of “Big Grin’s” head and slams him face first into the table.

Johnny, totally fed up with Anne’s magical power, shreds the mirror with a burst of fire from his future gun.

“Big Grin,” angry and enraged, flips the table, stands up, and pulls a gold-plated, pearl-handled .45 automatic out from inside of his jacket. Ron manages to dodge “Big Grin’s” first volley of wild shots, slip his brass knuckles onto his fingers, and repeatedly punch the disgraced don, shredding his face into hamburger.

It is about this point that Vivian and Giacomo reach one of the doors to the ballroom. They sneak inside and, without drawing any attention to themselves, manage to reach Vincenzio Bernouse, who is lying in a heap next to the overturned table.

“Help me get Papa outta here,” Viv tells the somewhat overwhelmed Giacomo.

“Big Grin” sprays lead from his custom handgun. Ron throws himself on the floor to avoid the shots and rolls around behind the overturned table.

“Hey, Viv!” he says, right before “Big Grin” steps around the table and blasts him in the chest. Ron lets out a gurgle and passes out from the shock and blood loss.

“Big Grin” is about to deliver a coup de grace with his pistol, but Johnny, who is still invisible, sights down on the mob leader and puts a future bullet straight into his brain. “Big Grin” dies on the spot, his gold-plated automatic falling from his lifeless hand.

While Vivian and Johnny attempt to perform lifesaving first aid on Ron, Anne Chantraine projects herself into another mirror. She doesn’t manage to speak more than a couple of words before Johnny blasts that mirror into glass shards.

Under Vivian’s frantic and amateurish care, Ron Deluca gradually comes around.

“Okay,” she says to Johnny and Giacomo. “Pick his ass up. We gotta get out of here.”

No sooner does she say this than Anne Chantraine possesses the last two giant mirrors in the room. From one, she leers out at the investigators, congratulating them on their cleverness and chutzpah. From the other, she manifests a wall of horrifying tentacles with the intent of crushing and consuming them. Johnny empties his magazine, destroying the last two mirrors and banishing the tentacles back to the horrifying abyss from whence they came.

Johnny then tosses his future gun aside and helps Giacomo pick up Ron.

Unbeknownst to everyone, Ron has enough presence of mind to grab the gold-plated automatic as a “spoil of war.”

Ron's New Gun

The Agonizing End

Johnny, Ron, Vivian, Vince, and Giacomo flee down a flight of stairs and reach the back entrance just as the invaders pour into the lobby and Dr. Black re-enters the hotel from the alley. Desperate to stop the attackers and save his friends (and Vince and Giacomo), Dr. Black overexerts himself to try and cast the Wrack spell on the six shotgun-wielding men that are running toward them. He calls upon wells of strength and dark knowledge that he did not know he possessed and manages to affect five of the men, sending them thrashing to the ground, weeping blood and shrieking in animalistic agony. Between them, the group gun down the last man standing.

The attackers who remained outside with the cars see that their initial onslaught has been defeated. Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, they pile back into their cars and drive away.

Vivian, Vince, and Giacomo flee out the hotel’s back door and into the night.  They reach the Bernouse house an hour or so later. Giacomo has so distinguished himself during the encounter that he is quickly given a nickname—Jackie the Kid.

Ron, who is walking wounded, decides to head up front and see how everyone else is doing. Johnny, who is still invisible, goes with him. The two men encounter Fredo Albanese, who took a bloody shoulder wound in the fight and is now trying to flee before the cops arrive on the scene. He arranges a truce with Ron and promises to get him both safely away from the hotel and to a doctor. Ron, realizing that he may not have a better chance to get information from Fredo, agrees to the terms. Johnny stalks along behind them.

Dr. Black does triage on Judge Putnam, Mikhail, Luca, and various other patrons, staff, and mafiosi injured in the assault, and is just about finishing up when the police and a hook and ladder firetruck arrive on the scene.

Luca, Mikhail, and Judge Putnam are taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. After a few hours in surgery, they are expected to make a full recovery. Kane and Dr. Black stay with them for the rest of the night. They are eventually joined by Johnny who, after realizing that the judge isn’t coming home, calls around to various hospitals to find out what’s become of him.

Both Johnny and Dr. Black are very relieved that the judge was unable to drink human blood during the assault, despite really, really wanting to.

After Action Patch-Up

Johnny and Ron accompany Fredo Albanese to a sketchy basement apartment in a nearby neighborhood. This place is owned by a hairy, angry “doctor” named Slavoz, who treats both Ron and Fredo’s injuries. Ron notices that Fredo has old bruises on his side, which indicate that he was in a scuffle relatively recently.

Slavoz remarks that he “still has the ring,” that he pried off of Fredo’s finger the last time he was here. Realizing that this might be the evidence that they need to implicate Fredo, Johnny roots around in the filthy apartment looking for it. He soon finds it in a dirty tray near the kitchen sink. It is, unsurprisingly, a Silver Twilight Lodge ring, its band crushed almost flat by an alarming amount of force.

Fredo seems unconcerned that Slavoz has mentioned the ring. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, I was going to give to jeweler to have band fixed, like you wanted. Haven’t had a chance to go yet. Maybe you want it back?”

"Doctor" Slavoz

When Fredo nods in the affirmative, Slavoz begins rooting around for the ring. At this same moment, Johnny taps Ron on the shoulder and quietly drops the damaged ring into Ron’s jacket pocket.

Fredo seems unbothered that Slavoz is unable to find the ring. With a jaunty, “It’ll turn up,” he thanks Slavoz for his work and goes to leave. Ron (and Johnny) goes with him.

Outside, Fredo withdraws a pocket mirror from his coat, checks himself out in it, and begins combing his hair. Ron, alarmed at the sight of yet another mirror that could be magicked by Anne Chantraine, yanks the pocket mirror out of Fredo’s hand and hurls it into the street. Fredo is about to complain when mist pours out of the mirror, slowly resolving itself into the shape of a large, winged, serpent-like beast.

The three men flee and manage to elude their spectral pursuer. Sometime later, while recovering their breath in a distant alley, Ron tries to ask Fredo questions about his involvement in the murder of Gabriella Puglisi. When Fredo professes not to know anything, Ron gives him a love tap to knock him unconscious. Johnny becomes fully visible a short time later, and the two men cart an unconscious Fredo off to an “undisclosed location” where Ron can question him further.

Johnny, not wanting to get his hands dirty in this particular way, returns home. When he finds that Judge Putnam isn’t there, he begins calling around to hospitals until he finds the one that the judge has been admitted to. He reaches the hospital ward a short time later, and explains to the others what happened after the battle in the Astoria Hotel.

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