Eli pulled the black sedan to a stop outside of an old warehouse on Euclid in Haven Village. Haven Village was once the industrial epicenter of New Haven. After the industries moved across the river to be closer to the Boneyards (the warehouse and shipping district of the city) the area fell into decay and disrepair. After my father planned the reconstruction of the city Nash Industries offered businesses the opportunity to move to the area at a cheap rate and were offered tax breaks by the local government in order to revitalize the neighborhood. This prompted a rise in the theater and arts, restaurant and nightlife in the area and it turned into the cultural center of the city. I stepped out of the sedan and onto the sidewalk, my foot landing on the damp concrete. Leaning back in I told Eli there was no need to wait on me I would be awhile and would get a cab home.
Taillights disappeared into the dark as I stepped into a little bar that I enjoyed frequenting, The White House. Edward White stood behind the bar drying out a bourbon glass. His long gray hair pulled back into a tight ponytail and his white beard hung to his chest. He wore a vintage Rolling Stones T-shirt and pair of blue jeans. His bar wasn’t a dive but it wasn’t high class either. Few people visited Whites but the ones that did were regulars and Edward knew everyone of them. He sat a bourbon glass on the bar as I pulled up a stool.
“I was expecting you,” he said. His voice was rough like he gargled pea gravel every morning. “Usual? ”
I threw my overcoat over the back of the stool and sat down. “You know what, I think I will have a beer tonight as well.” I downed the bourbon as he pulled a bottle from the cooler and twisted the top. “How’s things been going?”
“Okay, same ol’ same ol’. Business has been steady.”
I turn the beer up and drink it half down in one giant chug. Katrina steps up behind me and asks Edward for a couple beers.
“Hello Simon,” she says. I can sense some hesitation in her voice. A nervousness that I don’t place immediately.
He hands her the beers and Katrina bounces off. Her red ponytail bobbing back and forth as she makes her way to a table. I haven’t seen the guys in here before.
“What is up with her?”
“These guys have been in here the past four nights and they are giving her the willies if you know what I mean.”
I did, “Have you asked them to leave?”
“I can’t, they are Rosu’s men.”
I knew of Rosu, Christoph Rosu, the head of the Romanian crime family and real nasty piece. After the reconstruction the police force was doubled and the mafia in New Haven all but ran out of town. Only recently a few rogue groups have since grown into power and began testing the limits of the law and authority in the city. The meanest of these were the Romanian Mafia, formally known as the Gypsies.
“They keep wanting me to take their protection, for a fee of course.” “Seems to me you don’t need any protection, that is what the law is for.”
“Try telling that to them, Ever since your father announced his retirement the mobs have been making moves. They think with him out of the city things will start going back to ‘normal’.”
As I guzzle down the last of the beer Edward puts another in front of me, “I’m sorry to hear about Sarah, I wish that the Mexican government could have done more or gotten there sooner.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“Listen Simon, if you need to talk to someone I’m here,”
Edward placed his hand on my hand and squeezed. He has always had large hands. As a child he would place those large hands over mine and as I had gotten older I expected them to get smaller but they hadn’t, its like they grew as mine grew.
Regina White had been his sister and my mother. Uncle Edward has always been there for me, after my mother died two years ago he pulled me from the gutter outside of this bar and took me to his house. As much as he hurt himself his concern was my my wellbeing. He wouldn’t tell my father where I was hiding. My protector, my gaurdian. I wished there was something I could do to return the favor.
Katrina bounced back toward the bar, her green eyes glowing in the dim light of the bar. “Edward, I have an emergency, is it okay if I go, its just those two guys and my shift is over anyway.”
“Sure dear, be careful going home, okay.”
“You know I will,” she leaned across the bar and gave him a peck on the cheek.
In a second she had her jacket and was out the front door. The two men stood, one following her and the other coming toward the bar. He stood behind me and placed his strong hands on my shoulders, I could feel his tenseness. He slammed my face into the bar and pulled a pistol from his pocket. Then he placed the barrel to the back of my head.
“I wouldn’t move from that stool if I were you,” his eastern European accent was thick and barely understandable, but I got the gist. “Listen carefully to me old man, if you do not take the protection I will make sure that everyone you care about suffers. Even Mr. Pretty Boy here. I saw you on the t.v. standing next to your father man thees afernoon. Don’t think you are going to follow in his footsteps, we are taking back our city.” He pushed the barrel harder onto the back of my head.
My fists clenched as I could hear Katrina scream, her shrills echoing off the old brick buildings. My eyes darted as I saw Uncle Edward’s hand sliding under the bar, I knew he kept a sawed off shotgun under there, Ol’ Susy he called it. I just hoped he wised up and left her under there.
The goon turned and walked toward the door, the sound of his heavy footsteps growing quieter as he reached the door. I looked and Edward who looked at me and I gently shook my head and mouthed the words, ‘not now’.
Edward pulled his hand back as the door slammed shut and the screams of Katrina quieted. The sound of a loud sports car drowned out anything else in the city. Blood poured out of my nose and soaked my white shirt and blue tie. I turned and to my surprise a battered Katrina staggered through the door and collapsed to the floor.