Here’s the next part of chapter 6. I’m sorry about skipping Monday’s and Wednesday’s posts, but Chapter seven has been a slog and I’ve been doing a lot of editing this week to make the whole thing more readable. Anyway in this part, Tom meets Andy and the werewolf that isn’t and Sal starts to plan how to make life miserable for the sharks and close the deal with Sillia.
I sent a telegram to Larry up in Vermont with a sketch of the modifications that I wanted for Mike’s and Nera’s new pistols. Larry had been one of my most reliable suppliers since we had met during the werewolf case and Boris getting married. He did some of the best custom work and since I knew that he was fae I knew that he wouldn’t ask too many questions about the strange requests that I had had to send up from time to time. When the quote came back Larry included a picture of a pistol that his brother Tom had already done and said that he had Tom doing two more for me.
I took the quote upstairs to have Mary cut the purchase order. After she was done I took the purchase order into Helmut’s office and said; “Helmut, I need you to sign this purchase order for new pistols for Nera and Mike.”
He looked at the quote. He said; “Tom must be a busy fellow.”
“Actually it’s a case of Tom having the frame available. Larry bought a bunch of scrap from Colt, Remington and Winchester after the war and turns the scrap into finished guns. Tom’s been machining those frames and other guns for the last ten years off and on for Larry, so doing this sort of thing is probably second nature to him. Once he Changed and after his little adventure on the beach, doing something like this was almost inevitable.”
“Well at least doing things like this keeps him distracted.”
“Hopefully, between this stuff and Chrissie, he stays off the warpath.”
The potential for a royal fae on the warpath was one of the building’s nightmare scenarios.
“From what Boris has said, it’s been working pretty well.”
I said; “I think that I want to go up to the Cape for a week or so to get Mike and Nera set up and do the Boston office spot inspection. I’ll send a memo around to all the various people in the building and I want Joe to handle the shop for a while without me being around and looking at his shoulder.”
Since we were a shared resource I didn’t actually have a supervisor in our building. My theoretical supervisor was in DC, but other than one annual meeting before budget time I rarely ever saw him face to face. And he had been pestering me to give Joe more shop time anyway. It wouldn’t hurt to give the Boston office the annual spot inspection anyway. Bill from the Boston office had been down last month to do mine and wanted me to come up and do his soon so that we got them done for the year. As Helmut signed the Purchase Order he said; “Good, you can keep an eye on Mike and back him up if he needs it.”
I went back to my office to tell Joe that he was in charge for next week while I did the Boston inspection and cut the travel order for Boston. Then I sent another telegram to Larry with the PO and told him to send the guns to my place at the Cape. I also sent one to Mike out at the Cape telling him that I was coming out. Nera had given me the up top address for under sea. After work I went to my apartment and packed a bag for the trip up and then caught a cab to Grand Central for the ride up to Boston. Little did I know what kind of Change that would make in my life.
Frank and I had had an interesting talk about status and associations. As I drove away I thought about some of the things that we had talked about. For the swells, it seemed that the important thing was to have the right connections and be in the right clubs. With that in mind we went through the various memberships of our missing people, which the files were kind enough to mention. There was one that stood out and I said; “The Alopias? Who are they kidding.”
As result of much pounding by Sister Mary Steam Locomotive and her ruler, I had had acquired a smidgeon of Latin in high school. “Alopias” was Latin for shark teeth. Hiding right there in plain sight. I asked Frank; “Have you run into these guys before, Frank? This has to be some sort of “bad boys club.”
Frank had gone over some of those. Secret little societies where members could indulge their vices in private. They were the sort of thing that Vinnie and I had tried to keep the business out of. Of course with the kind of money these people had, hiding things was probably easier. The problem was that the way these people led their lives tended to lead to these things. Frank had talked about the kids who’s parents were too busy with trying to keep up with the Astors to pay attention to the kids, handing them off to nannies and private schools with a finishing off at one of the Ivy Covered Snob Factories. Not an environment that produced kids with a lot of empathy. Of course then those people tended to end up in government and publishing jobs that didn’t pay very much. But these people didn’t NEED to make a living because one of their ancestors had already done that for them.
In the end as I decided to make some more stops and then head over to Bennies I came to two conclusions. One, I thought that I needed to go ahead and close the deal with Sillia and two, I wanted to talk to Josh and Mera about some of this.
At one of the stops at the bootlegging distributers I mentioned my contacts with the Rockaways and they asked if I could make a connection for Veuve Cliquot champagne. I asked why and they said that their regular source through Montauk couldn’t fill their needs because of a large party down on the Cape and they were short. Apparently most of the good stuff came in through Boston because the connections to Canada and less breakage or problems in transit. I said that I would talk to Tony about it. As I was driving down toward the outfit I realized that I REALLY needed to talk to Josh because I just realized what that “large party” was. I parked and walked up to the office.
“Tony if you have any connections for Veuve Cliquot? Some of the people in big Jim’s side are looking for some cases.”
“Why, what happened?”
“I think Mera’s daughter’s wedding. The Boston Mob sort of cut off supply and from what Josh told me they were setting aside the good stuff aside for the wedding.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Well I’ll have to ask Mary, but from some of the phone calls I heard, it sounded as if Mera owned the hotel where the reception is happening and that half the restaurants on the Cape were bidding for the catering, so maybe not. Just how well is Josh connected?”
“I don’t know, ask Dom. By the way take the suit outside on the hanger down for Dom. Tara said that Sillia was upset about something and she wanted Dom back in the office to keep an eye on things after the incident with Big Jim. What happened with that? You were there. The stories I’ve been getting are just plain weird. It wasn’t just something from a mob war.”
“It was the sort of thing that the people I work with deal with. They were cops that had been Changed into something that wasn’t really alive anymore. Jim was lucky that I was there because I turned over my gun that had the special rounds we use to Johnny and he used it to nail one of them. I nailed the other one with my holdout gun, but .32 means that you have unload into one of these things. Talk to Al about fixing you up with some specials. In fact, get a Thompson and have it handy, loaded with specials. Better yet, I’ll get the first box for you myself. Before I bring Dom back up. I don’t want these people having an easy shot at anybody anymore. At least not people in my family.”
I picked up the hanger with Dom’s suit on my way out and drove down to Bennies. I could feel Sillia waiting. She popped up as I came down the dock with the rickshaw.
“Sillia, come on up!”
She clambered on to the float and I picked her up and put her in the rickshaw.
“Where are we going?”
“Just up to the car.”
I handed her Dom’s suit
“Put this in your locker and don’t give it to Dom until I give the Ok.”
“Because I’m setting up Tony with a Thompson loaded with specials and Dom doesn’t go back to the office until I know that there is a shooter with specials available between him and any zombies that walk in the door.”
“I like how you think.”
“Also, you and I have to go on a little trip up to the beach soon.” “Aren’t you afraid of the sharks?”
“I’ve got some ideas about that and with so many of them gone thanks to Tom’s gun, I have a feeling that they are going to be not as willing to take the same kind of risks again. And yes we are taking a shotgun to the beach. We even get a whiff of shark, we go up top and if they want to play that game again, I’m willing to do the same sort of things that Tom did.”
We went over the warehouse and went in. the clerk said; “Hi Sillia, what do you need today.”
“Isaac, this is Sal. We’ve bonded.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“Isaac, put this in my locker.”
Isaac walked back with the suit and came back.
“Ok, Sillia. Do you need anything else?”
“Not right now, Isaac. Come on, Sal.”
I pushed her back out and put her back in the rickshaw.
“So let’s get your parents.”
I pulled her back down the dock and she slipped back into the water. Shortly thereafter she popped up with her parents. I helped them into the rickshaw and over into Bennies. Dom asked; “So what was up today?”
I told them about what I had talked to Frank about and the “bad boys” clubs.
“Those people are all about connections. I want to talk to Mera about that. And Dom, just how connected is Josh up there?”
“Well when I was checking into the operations on Jim’s side they were having trouble getting the good champagne through the Boston Mob because the Boston Mob was holding back for a wedding. They wanted Veuve Cliquot and apparently the Boston Mob was holding most of the cases for the last couple of weeks and through December. And Josh mentioned that the Boston Mob was going to be holding on to the good stuff for the wedding and somehow I don’t think that it’s a coincidence.”
“Well it goes back to when prohibition started and there was war on the water. Up in Boston and the Cape things got bloody. With collateral casualties to people on boats that weren’t involved. Well all of a sudden boats started sinking and wheels fell off at inconvenient times and even worse, stuff was disappearing on its way down from Canada. Entire truck and carloads just never made it to where they were supposed to be. After about a week the business was essentially shut down.
Then Josh shows up and starts to deal. The deal was you play nice and your shipments get through. Dealing with the feds was your problem. Start shooting on the water and you were his problem and you got shut down. The Boston Mob divied up the business and had Josh sign off on it and it’s been that way ever since.”
“I asked Josh if he gets a cut and he wouldn’t say. Does he?”
“In cash, probably not. On the other hand, I suspect that he had enough cash already. We’ve both met the man now and he doesn’t like to make a big splash of himself. He likes to play the simple waterman. On the other hand the businesses out at the Cape have good booze and the restaurants, fresh food, the Cape doesn’t have wars on the water and Josh could probably have anything he wanted just by mentioning it. Like that champagne. Though my guess is that is Mera and not Josh.
In a way I envy Josh. He’s older than I am and has a better setup. I came up top and got too involved in the business. I have to keep a presence and even then things fell apart when I wasn’t looking. I was too visible and they went after Vinnie because of that.”
“Listening to Mera and Mary when they were setting up the wedding I got the feeling that money was never an issue. Or that they even had to spend very much out of pocket. It sounded from the way Mera was talking that they owned the hotel that they were using and that half the restaurants on the Cape wanted to do the wedding just to say that they handled Chrissie’s wedding. Add the booze to that and it’s likely that the wedding will cost Josh almost nothing out of pocket. I think it was all family and alliances with people.
I think that I want to take Sillia up to the beach soon. We’ve been putting it off and lately Sillia has been upset, haven’t you?”
Dom asked; “What about the sharks?”
“When we didn’t know who and what they were that was an issue. But I did some research and right now their little bad boys club is hurting for membership. I’ve read Tom’s report and if I even see a strange shark sniffing around we get in the car and go someplace else. In fact we will have short Swims and then get in the car and go further out on the Island until we get out to Montauk. I’m going to send a telegram to Josh and have him pick us up there and take us to the Cape. I’ve got some vacation time coming and Al has a house out there. On the water, in fact. And I’m taking a shotgun on the beach with specials.
The problem with putting closing the deal off anymore is that Sillia can’t stand it, I can’t stand it and I keep getting this feeling that I need to Swim now or will need to soon. I think that I want to start out next week if Sillia wants.”
“Sillia wants. I like this plan and you’re right Sal, I can’t stand it anymore. This plan is probably the best way to keep us safe. And I don’t want to put this off anymore.”
“So I’ll put in for time when I check in tomorrow and we can start on Sunday. I’ll come down and pick you up then we head on out.”
After dinner I took Dom and Tara out to the dock and then came back for Sillia. As I dropped her into the water she grabbed me, kissed me and said; “Soon.”
It was time to get back to waterman work. I needed to get the pots fixed up for next season and I really didn’t want to do it in January even if I could do it at the shed in the house. I was going to take the worst pots there anyway. Mera helped by weaving nets for the insides the way she had back in the early days of our marriage. I had forgotten how good it felt to be working together. She said; “Dear, you should have called me up a long time ago. I’ve forgotten just how much fun this was. Things can be so lifeless sometimes down below. This afternoon though, we go for a Swim.”
“What about the work?”
“If we both work on it, the work will get done fast enough and we can put the worst pots in the shed. Or give them to Tom and Chrissie to fix. We can afford new pots. You need the exercise. You also need to be able to work down below more so that dad can come up top more and see things for himself. We let him stew down below and he lost touch.”
“ Not that I’m complaining, but why me?”
“Because you know everybody up top and you need to share that with my brothers and our nephews. If they have to spend all their time dealing with down below they can’t be up top. If father hadn’t been stewing down below, he would have picked up on Tom’s issues and had a sit down with him. Which would have saved us a lot of grief. At least Mike and Nera blasted right through the Faery princess syndrome. But Nera’s moving back to New York and she and Mike are needed by Helmut. We also need to start finding fae families and bowers and letting them know about what happened. That’s been your job all along and you need to start to train the younger fae and encourage them to come up top more. I think that next year we will get some of my nephews or grand nephews up here working on the boat. That is if Greta’s grandsons don’t come down for the summer.”
“Are you doing some matchmaking?”
“Well we have a surplus of girls and Greta has too many boys, so yes. For that matter there’s Helmut’s people. We also need to start thinking about recruitment for things like fisheries and Helmut’s little agency so that people can get shuffled around. That’s one thing that happened to Helmut and his people. They got stuck in a rut and lost the big picture. Dom’s people too. Then there’s the Sound bower and the strange things happening on the Gold Coast and Connecticut. Too much is going on in the shadows and it’s time we brought some light to the subject.”
We worked and talked until lunch time, then I carried Mera across to the diner for lunch and back to the boat. When we got back she said; “Swim time! If you’re not down with me in 30 seconds you are in trouble.” She quickly pulled off her dress and leaped into the water, disappearing with a splash. I looked around, got undressed and followed.
We managed to avoid the skillet again. Stephie had brought her kids down but they were out watching the milking as Tom and I came out. Stephie waggled the skillet while she was helping with breakfast. I said; “We’re safe today. And just you wait. I have some whale buddies who would just love to squirt certain faeries all over. Come near the ocean and you’re in trouble” “Well, I’ll take my chances.”
“Well Tom was already thinking of ideas, weren’t you Tom.”
“Chrissie don’t warn her, that spoils the surprise”
“Tom, you’ve never been able to surprise me.”
“That’s because I didn’t know about Change and didn’t have minions. I have Change too and even better, I have minions to do my evil bidding.”
“So you’re going to get Bob and Scott in even more trouble with Boris.”
“Curses, foiled again!”
We laughed. Stephie said; “On a more serious note, I brought the shells you asked for. They’re in the locker. By the way, did you know that Larry reloads specials for Al down in New York. ”
“No, I didn’t. I’ll have to talk to him about some .45’s for the pistol.”
“So what was all that stuff underwater yesterday?”
“Well Stephie, I was testing to see what would happen if you fired a gun underwater. The results were less than impressive. Essentially you have to have the gun right up to the target or the bullet won’t even reach it.”
I added; “I was reading Tom’s book on fluids last night and I think it has to do with drag and water density. I want to have Tom ask my uncles about that. They both know a lot more about those things.”
“I’ve never met your uncles. Do they come up top?”
“Yes they do but I was too busy distracting you to arrange for you to meet them. And daddy was trying to keep you working and on the water as much as possible.”
“Why was that?”
“So that I could distract you, of course. The things I went through. Stephie, did I tell you yet what Tom did when we met?”
“No, what did he do?”
“He tried to put a boathook in my face as if I was a monster.”
“Tom, you didn’t!”
“Well I didn’t know who she was. She hadn’t danced for me yet. And everybody on the Cape was playing “We have a secret, hee, hee.” And “watch out for Chrissie.” For a month. There were hints about fish eating, but not saying just what that meant. All those hints and nothing about mermaids right out. That thing with the boathook was almost inevitable. Everything Changed that I had run into up to then was a monster. How was I supposed know that she was the love of my life. Anyway she went back in the water and over to Josh’s boat. I sort of followed and we fixed things up pretty much right after that.”
“Except for the monster thing. That took a bit longer”
“That was Stephie’s fault.” “Why, Tom?”
“Well, Stephie, if you had showed me Boris’s Change I wouldn’t have been seeing monsters around every corner. Especially after working in Washington. Of course seeing monsters around every corner helped down there.”
Tom never talked about his time in Washington very much. I had the feeling that it was almost as unpleasant as shooting his brother. I said; “Well we all got that dealt with in the end, didn’t we?”
“Well then the REAL monsters showed up and spoiled our fun.”
“Actually I think it’s more of a case of you spoiling their fun. They came all that way to eat you and what did you do? You shot them.”
“Stephie, they deserved it. I worked very hard to get Tom on that beach and it was supposed to be a party of two, not twenty with teeth.”
Tom’s father and the rest came in and we ate breakfast. After breakfast I asked; “What’s the locker?”
“It’s where we all keep out personal ammunition. That way we keep track of what each of us has out of pocket. If we need a particular stock we can either sign off from the farm stock or buy it direct from Larry.” “It didn’t seem like you gave Larry any money for the ammunition that he gave me?”
“That came from my account, or from the farm account. I haven’t talked about it with father yet, but as a guest, stuff like that comes from the farm account. The pistol was a large enough bill that I would have paid it separately or charged it to my shop as an exchange like we ended up doing. I charge Larry for each frame that he uses as he uses them and that goes into an account that I can draw on. Here, let me show you the locker.”
He took me to a rather unassuming closet door that we had passed every day and I had never thought about. I wondered if the door had a spell on it or was just so ordinary that nobody would really pay any attention to it. It did have a lock and Tom brought out his keys to open it. Inside was a closet with shelves around the walls. All the shelves had piles of boxes on them.
“Here’s my space.”
“You have a lot of different kinds of bullets.”
He did actually. I could see several kinds of shotgun shells for 12 gauge and some .22, but there were a bunch of different kinds of ammunition for what it appeared to be at least five different kinds of gun.
“When I was a teenager I used to hunt and a bit later I built some rifles from the scrap. Right after the war you could get military rifles cheap and I bought two through Bannerman’s. I think that I’ll take the .30-06 that I built, trade the other two rifles I built for that Model 10 with Larry and give the rest away as Christmas presents.”
He went to the top shelf where there was a box similar to the box that I had seen on the boat during the fight and took five shells out and put them in another box of shotgun shells.
“I’m going to use the birdshot to tune the Model 10 and I’ll load it with the specials when we leave.”
Tom took us over to the shop, went in to get the skillet, set it up on the wall of the barn and set me up with the rifle and some boxes of cartridges on a small wooden table from the shop. Since it was Saturday, the boys came over, said hi and got to work on whatever it was they were working on. I kept plinking away. About an hour later, Tom came out with the two pistol frames. He came over and said; “I’m going to run these by Larry’s. If you need anything, ask the boys.” He left in the truck. I kept plinking away at the skillet, just enjoying the rhythm and competing with myself when a boy about eleven or twelve came up. The boy said; “You’re not very good.”
“I’m just learning and who are you?”
I hadn’t been introduced to most of the children yet. Greta was going to use me going to church to introduce me to everybody. I had met Stephie’s three that morning on their way out to the barn but the rest hadn’t been around this week very much. He said; “I’m Andy. Aren’t you a little old to be learning how to shoot?”
“I’m Chrissie and where I live you can’t have guns.” “You live in New York City?”
“No, it’s for other reasons.”
“Well that skillet’s not much of a challenge. I’ll be right back.”
Eric came over in a tractor attached to a trailer with large metal tank on it. He and one of the boys I hadn’t yet met ran a hose into the pond.
“Eric who is this?”
“This is Anthony, Diana’s second. He helps on the farm on weekends. Anthony this is Chrissie, Your Uncle Tom’s fiancé.”
“Hi, Aunt Chrissie!”
“Just Chrissie please, saying aunt makes me feel old. So what is the water for?”
“The pool. I want you and Tom to try it out tonight and tomorrow.”
They finished filling the tank and left as Tom came back.
“Well that’s done. I’m going to get the shotgun done this morning and we can think about packing this afternoon.”
He went back into the shop. Andy came back with some boards, a rifle, some metal washers painted black and some nails and a hammer.”
“Here, I made these up last weekend. I haven’t been able to set them up yet either here or on the range. I’ll set the washers up on the barn to start. He went across the dam and the rather rickety bridge over the spillway and along the other side to the barn where he hammered in the washers spaced about two feet apart. Then he came back. He said; “Ok, those make better targets.”
As I loaded the rifle and set it to my shoulder he said; “Do it like this. And when you get ready to fire hold your breath. It gives you better control.”
He lifted his rifle and fired; “See.”
I tried it his way and it was better. For the next hour we traded shots as he showed me the things that Larry and Tom hadn’t really had time for, or forgot to show me. Eric and Anthony came back for another fill. Eric said; “Andy, what are you doing?”
There was an undertone that I didn’t really understand. Eric was looking toward the shop a little anxiously. I said; “He’s showing me how to shoot. It’s worked very well.”
“Grandfather, I’ve been showing her how. Nobody taught her.”
“Ok, but your mother may need you for chores. So go back soon.”
We started shooting again. As it got toward noon a woman of about thirty came up from the direction that Andy had come from. She said; “Andy! I need you in the kitchen! Are you bothering this lady?” “Mom!”
“Hello, I’m Chrissie and no he hasn’t been. He’s been teaching me how to shoot, actually.”
“I’m Hilda. I’m this young rapscallion’s mother and he needs to get back to his chores. Run along young man.”
Andy left. Hilda and I talked for a while and then she left. I wondered who she was because I had thought that all the Benton brothers and sisters and their bonded had been at the dancing the other night. And her soul seemed have the same sort of tearing that my father’s had and some dark spots. It did seem to also have a great deal of joy, mostly seemingly around Andy. She left and Tom came out to take me back to the house for lunch. I asked; “Tom, who’s Hilda?”
So Tom didn’t know who she was. I asked; “So how did it go?”
“I’ve got the shotgun brazed. After it cools I can finish it up tomorrow. I think we need to start packing this afternoon.”
As it turned out packing was less than an issue as about the time that Tom and I finished our tank session, some of daddy’s friends from the railroad turned up with a large truck and two large crates. In about two hours they had everything, including the tank bed, packed and loaded back in the truck and on its way to Joe’s yard on the Cape. Tom asked;
“So who do I send the check to?”
“No need, it’s prepaid. He handed Tom the freight sheet. Well, we’ll get this on the road. It should be delivered by Tuesday.”
Daddy at work. Since the packing was done, Tom and I went back to the shop. Eric made another run with the tank. He said; “One more run should do it.”
“Unless we use a washtub we’re going to be in the pool tonight. At least I am. Thank you for getting this done. By the way, who is Hilda?”
“Not with Tom around. Come by my office after dinner and I will explain. I don’t want to make things worse than they already are.”
After they left, Andy returned and we went back to shooting. I wasn’t as good as Andy was, but I could see that I was improving. After a while Andy ran up to the range and brought back some paper targets so that he could attach them to the boards he had brought up earlier. He said; “Now we can keep score.”
“I’m still not very good.”
“Neither am I really, but when you keep score you get better.”
We each fired ten shots and then Andy went out and changed the target. Before he left he said; “Guns down when I’m on the range. Those are the rules.”
As he was coming back Tom came out and saw the targets. He asked; “Who is this?”
“Andy, he’s been helping me shoot.”
“Andy, would you be willing to help me too.”
“Ok, I’ll be right back with some shotgun targets. I want to tune this gun in.”
He walked up to the range and came back with some large targets and more of the small targets. Then he went back into the shop and he and the boys brought out a wooden bench that sort of looked like half of a picnic bench and set it up. I said; “So that’s what Eric was talking about.”
“When you are working on guns it’s sometimes a pain to go up to the range, shoot some rounds off and then have to come back for a minor tweak. So I set this up using this old table. Andy, could you set this target up.”
“Ok, but guns down until I get back.”
“He’s been very good at this.”
“From what I’ve seen, yes he has.”
Andy came back and we went back to shooting as occasionally, Tom’s shotgun went off. Once we fired our ten, I said to Andy; I think that this will be our last round. Your mother is probably going to be looking for you. Go and change the targets and we’ll do our last round.”
Andy went over to Tom to tell him that he was changing targets, guns down, and walked across the dam. I could sense Hilda approaching as it happened. As Andy crossed the bridge it broke and Andy fell into the water. I could see that he could not swim and was panicking in the water. As I was reaching for the buttons on my jacket to tear it off I felt Hilda’s Change as she raced toward the dam and I turned and saw what she looked like. Then I heard the racking of the shotgun and I realized that if Hilda reached the dam she was dead because Tom was going to kill her when he had a clear shot once he reloaded with the special that he had in the box. As Hilda raced toward the dam I leaped out of the wheel chair and grabbed her pulling what appeared to be a mix of human and wolf to the ground and turned to yell at Tom; “Get Andy, Tom!”
There was Eric lifting the gun as Tom let it go and reached for his jacket. He tore off his jacket and the rest of his clothes and Changed, leaping into the water as the boys came out and started Swimming toward Andy, reaching for him and pulling him onto the dam. I felt Hilda release her Change again and I let her go.
The day went better than I expected. I got the two frames done and took them over to Larry and then took the trigger assembly out of the shotgun and got to work. I had the brazing done by lunch but expected to be working all afternoon packing father’s and my truck with the stuff we taking down to the Cape and going over to the freight house to arrange for the rest. The truck and people that Josh arranged were more than a little of a surprise. I was going to have to settle with Josh for that. That meant that I could finish the shotgun. When I was ready to tune the gun, Chrissie was with a boy that had apparently been helping her all day and acting as her range master too. I asked; “Who is this?”
“Andy. He’s been helping me shoot.”
I didn’t know who’s kid Andy was, but there was a mob of them and it was hard to keep track when I hadn’t visited in a long time. I went back in and with Bob and Scott brought the range bench that I had built for gun tuning out so that I could tune the shotgun. Chrissie said; “So that’s what Eric was talking about.”
“When you are working on guns, it’s sometimes a pain to go up to the range, shoot some rounds off and then have to come back for a minor tweak. So I set this up using this old table. Andy, could you set this target up.”
“Ok, but guns down until I get back.”
Andy changed targets and they got back to shooting as I fired off the occasional round as I adjusted the sites on the shotgun. It was getting late and Andy started across the dam toward the barn. I sensed a woman approaching who I didn’t know and then the bridge collapsed under Andy.
Then everything happened almost as if in slow motion. Andy hit the water and it was obvious that he could not swim. Then I sensed a Change and looked toward it. Werewolf! I hoped that Chrissie would leap into pond and safety as I reached for the gun, pointed it toward the barn and racked it to clear the chamber and grabbed for a special round. Instead of leaping away, Chrissie leaped onto the werewolf pulled it down, turned and yelled at me;
“Get Andy, Tom!”
Then there was father lifting and tearing the gun from my unfeeling fingers as I started to drop it and reach for my buttons to take off my jacket and shirt, pushing my pants down as I Changed. I hit the water and Swam as fast as I could toward Andy. I grabbed him and pulled him from the water. As I was looking around, there was Chrissie with a rather distraught looking woman, father still holding the gun and the boys wondering what had just happened.
I released my Change and pulled Andy toward the shop. I said to him; “Come on, Andy, let’s get dry and warm.”
The rest of them followed me in.
“Ok father, what’s going on? I can guess some of it. This must be Brad’s bonded. Only she may Change to a wolf, but isn’t a werewolf. And you didn’t tell me, probably to try to protect her, and me.”
“That’s essentially right Tom.”
“Father what were you thinking!? Right now, I’ve about had it with you and everybody else not telling me things to protect me. Things that could get people killed. No more secrets! If you are afraid that I can’t tell the monsters from the people don’t be. I’ve already killed things that looked like people because I knew that they were monsters and that they were trying to kill me. Yet you turned around and put me in a situation where I might have to make a snap judgment and even worse you put her in a situation where if I made a mistake she would end up dead and I would have to live with the guilt of that for the rest of my life. All because you were trying to save us from the possibility of a misunderstanding.”
“I’m sorry, I thought that if she just stayed away from the house for a few days that it would be all right. That you wouldn’t have to deal with the pain surrounding your brother that Hilda might represent.”
“Don’t apologize to ME, father, apologize to Hilda here! She’s the one who nearly died because of her Change. I would have just been the poor sap who pulled the trigger, thanks to a misunderstanding. Thank god that Chrissie knew better. Chrissie you saved us both. Trust me father, if it comes to a little pain or the possibility that I might shoot somebody that I didn’t want to shoot, I’ll take the pain. By the way, Hilda, it’s nice to meet you, you are welcome down at the Cape anytime and you are a sister already.
As for Andy, why haven’t you fixed that bridge? It was a wreck back when I left the first time. And doesn’t anybody teach the kids to swim up here anymore. Andy, next summer you WILL come down to the Cape, and I’ll teach you to swim.”
“Will I meet mermaids like Chrissie!”
“How did you know that she was a mermaid.”
“Other than being with her all day you mean? I saw her dance the other day.”
“Considering the people involved there may be mermaids around.”
I went outside again to collect my clothes and got dressed and then we all went back to the house. I said; “Father, Larry should get Andy to help him up at the range. He was very good with Chrissie today.”
“He’s only twelve.”
“Yes he is, but he knew the rules and why they were important. And I could see Chrissie getting better. He also moved Chrissie from hurting poor defenseless skillets to other targets.”
As we got to the house mother came out and grabbed Hilda and took her away. Then shortly thereafter she came and got me and Chrissie. She said; “Dear, I think that you and Hilda need to have long talk.”
I followed her into the pool room where Hilda was waiting, sitting on a chair. Mother said; “Get in the pool, both of you.”
I rolled Chrissie to where there was a place for the chair and she unbuttoned her dress and slipped in. I then got undressed, Changed and followed. The water was warm and flowed through my gills. We both popped up to the surface. My mother started in; “Tom, you’ve guessed most of it. Hilda bonded with your brother and they had a child. While Hilda’s Change resembles a werewolf, she never succumbed to the twist that made your brother a monster. They bonded in Germany after your brother was fully a monster and you must understand that when they bonded, Hilda was young and defenseless because her family had been destroyed. Like most bonds neither had much choice in the matter. She needed the monster’s protection as much as she tried to heal the monster and return him from the twist. There had been too much blood and the monster was irrevocable by the time he reached here. As we have said shooting him was mercy. But Hilda has been afraid of you and what you might do ever since that night. And what you might become. That’s why we didn’t tell you. We didn’t want you to seek her out.” “Mother, that is as may be. And I suspect that before my Change that that may have been true. I realize that I’m new at this. On the other hand Hilda is family and I would have respected that. I would not have blamed her for my brother then. Certainly I will not now. Nor will I ever hurt her if I can avoid it. Chrissie, do you have anything to add?”
“Only Hilda, that I liked you from the first and I am glad to have you as part of my family, unlike certain faeries I could mention. The ones with skillets.”
“Hey, I resemble that remark. Mother, dinner is ready when you are.”
Stephie walked back out.
“Tom, one thing you should know.” “What mother?”
“As far as we know, Hilda is the last survivor of the pack that was lead by your brother and the enemy considers her their spy up here in Vermont. She takes great risks to feed the enemy just enough to keep them happy.”
“Do Boris’ friends know.”
“You’ll have to ask Boris or Mike about that but I’m sure that they do.”
“Hilda have you received anything from them about me, yet?”
“No Tom. Should I have?”
“That’s right, you probably haven’t seen the pictures yet, have you?”
“Mother, go and get them, please.”
Mother went out and returned shortly with the pictures. She handed them to Hilda. I said; “The enemy tried to put the bite on Chrissie and I when we were bonding. Most of the people and things that they sent did not enjoy the experience. I think, though that the enemy is rather more upset with me for actually taking these than shooting all those people. Or monsters as the case may be, because while I can understand my brother becoming twisted after the hell he went through, those people seemed have turned themselves into monsters.
They want me dead. For those pictures, if nothing else. So they have to be looking for me. Do me a favor. Monday, right after we leave, let them know that I was here.”
“Because if you are playing a shell game sometimes you tell the sucker where the pea was. They are going to want to know what I did here and what my plans are. They may send somebody for Boris to interrogate. If we can keep them bouncing around wasting resources then they can’t be doing some of the stuff that they want to be doing. Ask Boris to tell you the big picture. ”
Boris didn’t make a big deal about his past in the Okhrana, but he was very good at getting people to confess. Strangely, without any real interrogation. Often just the fact that one of his deputies mentioned that he had been in the Okhrana was enough. The only people he had trouble getting confessions from were family. Of course we all knew that if we got in serious trouble it wouldn’t be Boris, but father coming down on us like a ton of bricks. On the other hand Boris had a nose for monsters and when things like that showed up they never lasted very long. My family had a long memory and we would go on a hunt if we felt it necessary. Even before my Change I knew that. Hilda asked; “Do you have any plans?”
“At the moment, no. Except to get back to the Cape and talk to the people back there. Mother, dressed or Changed for dinner?”
“Some of the children will be there, so dressed.”
Mother and Hilda left as Chrissie and I got out of the pool and got dressed for dinner.
It was quiet when I checked in at the office and turned in my daily report. I walked into the boss’s office. I said; “Boss, I want to put in for next week so that Sillia and I can close the deal.”
“So what are your plans?” “Find a beach on the Island, close the deal and go for a short Swim. Come back out, drive about thirty miles or so and go for another Swim. Keep repeating until we get out to Montauk and cross over to the Cape and spend some time there. Maybe come back along the other shore. I haven’t worked the details out yet.”
“Do you want to change cars?”
“I want to talk to Dom about that. By the way Tara is letting Dom back up and I want a box of specials for Tony before he does. And our connection so that Tony can get more if he needs them.”
“You’re not on vacation. Go out to Montauk the way you said and tie up with Mike and Josh. Al’s already going up there and when Tom gets down from Vermont, I want you and Mike talking to him, soonest. Under sea is even better. So go ahead and close the deal with Sillia. Take the car. Ask Dom if he has places where you can show up and make a splash with the outfit. You’ve been a magnet for stomping on these people and it they’re watching you they won’t be watching us. Take a camera in case they do show up. And to get pictures for Mary of you and Sillia. You know she will want them.”
“Frank Magelleno said the same sort of thing. He makes himself so obvious and foolish that the people he’s investigating never see the real investigation until it’s too late. Ok, that’s how I’ll do it. And yes I’m going to take a camera.”
I went over to Steve’s. I said; “I need film for the Graflex and a smaller camera for backup.”
Steve handed me the film and the small camera along with some rolls of 120 film. He said; “You’ve been getting great shots lately. Keep it up.”
I went down to my desk and sent a message off to Josh telling him that Sillia and I were coming. Then I went down to the armory. The boss had told me that Al was out and there was Joe. I said; “Joe, I need a box of .45 specials.”
He went back and got the box and looked at the signout sheet.
“You just pulled a box the day before yesterday, how can you need them so fast.” “These aren’t for me. They are for a special customer that we want protected from things that go bump in the night. It’s authorized.”
“Something to do with Sillia? Or her parents? Helmut sent a box up to Big Jim of all people yesterday.”
“Something along those lines. I need to sign out a Thompson, just in case. I don’t think I’ll need it but I want to be sure.”
“Straight or drum”
“Straight mag. Those drum mags just make noise. Give me a spare too.”
Joe handed me the gun and the mags and I took everything down to the car. Then I went back up and called my parents to say I would be bringing Sillia by and that Dom and Tara were coming too. After that it was out to the outfit with the specials. I walked over to Tony’s desk, handed him the cartridge boxes and said; “Tony here are the specials. Do you have the Thompson?”
“Sal it’s right here.”
He held it up. I handed him the address that had the connection for the specials;
“Here’s the connection for the reloader that does our specials. I hope that it never comes to the point where you need it, but if you do, here it is.”
“There’s a car waiting at Bennies for your ok to take Dom and Tara over to your parents place so that Dom can try the pool.”
“Ok, I was going to take Sillia there anyway, so I’m on my way.”
I was on my way to Bennies and Sillia. As I drove down the familiar street I passed a big car with two rather nasty looking men in it. I pulled over. I got out and said; “Boys, how’s it going?”
“Sal, we’re waiting on you.”
“Well I made the delivery so Dom should be good to go. I’m going to pick up Sillia and have lunch with Dom and Tara. Then we’re all going to my parents’ place for the afternoon.”
“Ok, it’s your show.”
I walked down to the dock and sensed Sillia coming to the surface. I called out as her head popped up; “Hi Sillia! I’m here for lunch. Get your parents.”
She went back down and three heads popped up and headed toward the dock. I pulled Dom, Sillia and then Tara up onto the dock and went over to get the rickshaw. I put Dom and Tara into it and rolled them up to Bennies and then came back for Sillia. As went over to Bennies I said; “Sillia, we’re a go for the trip. I’ll explain when we get inside.”
I took her over to Bennies and got her a seat. I wheeled her over to the table with Dom and Tara.
“Dom, I’ve provided Tony with some special rounds and our connection, so you are more secure at the office. How you want to arrange for your shooters is up to you. The boss has cleared me to go out to Montauk next week and told me to make a splash, so how do you want to work it. I want things to look as if I’m doing the same sort of thing I’ve been doing. Does the outfit have any hotels or beach houses out there? Also I want connection to the people out there handling the high grade stuff. I might need it and if somebody is watching me I want them seeing me checking out things where they don’t expect.”
Dom wrote down an address and said; “Well Vinnie and Ynthia checked in at this hotel when they went up to the beach to close the deal. The outfit owns it, but I’ve had my suspicions ever since. I just haven’t had the time to check it out. So drive up as you’ve been you’ve been doing and make a splash. If there’s something fishy going on there I want it shut down.”
I pulled out the list that Jim’s secretary had given me of the people handling the booze.
“Are there any more outfits that you know of that aren’t on this list.”
“No. We don’t run stuff through there.”
“Ok, here’s how I want to do it.”
I got the map out and lined out our trip along the beach. And then we talked about other things over lunch. After lunch I took Dom, Sillia and Tara over to the warehouse so that they could get their clothes and Dom took Tara over to the car. I got Sillia and sat her in the car. She said; “Thank you for taking care of dad. He’s been feeling tied by the restrictions, but after Big Jim, mother and I didn’t want to have him in that office with zombies coming after him.”
“If we don’t take care of the people who count on us the other side wins. We can’t look aside from other fae because that’s what the other side has been able to take advantage of to do what they have because all of us have been living in our own little worlds. Josh and Mera knocked that on its back when they came down here and we need to learn from that. That’s one reason I want us to go to the Cape.”
“There are also nice beaches there. I am so glad that we are going to settle this. Even if there’s some risk.”
We waved as we passed officer O’Brian and he waved back. As we approached my parents place there were a couple of cars out front in addition to Dom’s with some navy types drinking coffee with Dom’s boys. My dad came out with the wheelchair. He said; “Sal, you park your car and let me take Sillia in.”
I parked the car and dad came over and got Sillia. I asked; “Why are we doing it this way?”
“Too many people and I want your car on the street. People are going to look at it and not really see anything else.”
“You noticed that.”
“It’s Jimmy’s revenge.”
We laughed at that. As we went in mom yelled out from the pool room; “Mike, bring Sillia back here!”
There in the living room were the boss, Mary, the Admiral, Captain Farr and Dom. Dad came back out and joined us. He said; “We wanted to have a bit of a talk before you went out on the Island. We figure that if the other side is definitely going to try to break up a bond, yours and Sillia’s after Tom’s and Chrissie’s are the most likely on the water. Since Tom is still in Vermont and according to Boris, won’t start back until Monday that means that they may want to go for you.”
“So you want me to put it off?”
The boss said; “No, we want you to go ahead. Right now, according to your report this morning they probably have at best, ten or fifteen of their people who can put the bite on people. Probably only half that, as some members of their little club seem to have disappeared for some time. For about three years in fact.”
Dom said; “Even fresh into his Change I wouldn’t have expected Vinnie to go quietly. Sal, it’s likely that he took one or two of the sharks with him. I wouldn’t have expected less of my son.”
The Admiral added;
“I’ve talked to the people over in Groton and we’re running a joint exercise with a submarine and Swimmers tomorrow night just coincidently off that hotel. Go up top, flash a light in Morse and those sharks may find that they are on the short end this time. The other half of the exercise is a destroyer that’s going to be looking for the submarine at about 20:00 so you don’t want to be in the water then anyway. Either way, if the sharks show up we’ve got some nasty surprises for them.
Helmut do you have a file on the various monsters you’ve seen? My people are still new at this and I think that we need to get caught up.”
“Sure Admiral, we have a monster and fae dictionary that we’ve built up over the years. Mary, send them a copy when we get back to the office on Monday.”
Dad said; “Sal, the idea is to take Jimmy’s revenge to the next level. These people have been focusing more and more on you and maybe that car that they might not see what else is going on. There’s also the fact that you’ve had a nose for finding out what these people are doing.”
“Dad, I got lucky. If I hadn’t thought about the Rockaway bootleggers I wouldn’t have had the lead that blew the case open. What keeps bothering me is why the protection racket in the first place? We now know that the Alopias were a bunch of swells. Supposedly they don’t really care about money, at least the nickel and dime stuff that that protection racket represented.”
“Somebody needed money?”
“But why Dom?”
“Well most of the loans my outfit makes are business carry loans and we try to avoid the kind of kneecapping that the outfit is known for. There’s really no point. And what happens if you push is that the business shuts down or has a sudden fire and people lose their jobs. So it’s all downside and we charge higher interest rates for taking on the risk but its business and we keep it that way. But up on the Coast? Gambling debt maybe? They tend to play rougher because they know that the swells tend to cough up the money if pushed a little. Maybe one of the sharks got desperate. Or just pissed. I could see the logic of getting revenge on the outfit and the little people. That’s the way those people think.”
“I think that that may be part of it, but there’s more.” “Mary?’
“I think that the dark resents the light. The ability to love and enjoy. The willingness to share life with others and perhaps, most importantly the opportunity to strive and achieve and the rewards that come from that. We fae tend to get set into patterns and that can make us vulnerable to change. The dark carries a deep resentment and dislike for change and the people that create and make the change. In some ways the changes of the last century probably made the dark want to resist and stifle the changes and in order to do that they decided that they needed control. So they started to destroy what they could not control.”
Stella yelled from the Back;
“Mary, we need you!”
“I think that I’ve been called.”
“What are they plotting back there?”
“Sal, you’ll find out.”
She went back to the pool room.
Dad said; “Sal it sounds like you were busy the last few days, saving mob bosses notwithstanding.”
“Dad, I was. I’ve been looking into the missing person’s case. At least from our angle because we all know by now that the reason that they were missing is that they went to put the bite on Tom and he didn’t like that and well, he sent a bunch of those monsters to hell. For which I will thank him when I meet him. From what Frank said, these people spend far too much time on almost nothing. And all they care about are their little exclusive clubs.” “So how are you going to get an “in with them?”
“Well, they don’t realize it yet, but I’m going to be their best friend. See they don’t know Josh, and I do. And for some strange reason Champagne got short lately. The good stuff anyway.”
“It did? The outfit tends to get stuck with cases because they’re too expensive for everyday and we just stock up for the holidays. It’s a pain because if we get raided, you have all that inventory as evidence.”
“Well I was talking to Josh and he said that it was likely that the Boston Mob, which apparently handles shipment of the high end stuff, was probably setting aside the good stuff for his daughter’s wedding. The one that Mera and Mary are setting up. When I was going around, checking up on the Gold Coast bootleggers, sure enough, they asked me if you had any of the good stuff.”
“Probably, but you would have to check with Tony about that.”
“Dom, I already did. Anyway, I’m going to talk to Josh about releasing some of the stuff that the Boston people are holding on to, but through a connection with Tony. A connection that goes through me.”
“So you’re taking over the Gold Coast’s booze? Jim would probably give you all of it if you asked. He owes you.”
“I don’t want all of it, just enough to get their attention. We’ve tried different things and nothing else seems to work. The best part is that one look at the car and nobody will believe that it’s an undercover operation even if the whole thing were staffed by NY state troopers in uniform.”
“Even Jimmy wouldn’t believe in that.”
Mom came rolling out from in back. She said; “It’s been decided. We’re all going down to Bennies for dinner and then some of you boys are going for a nice twilight Swim. Dom, Tara wants you back to try the pool out and then you follow the rest of us down.”
She rolled over to the bottom of the stairs.
“Cindy, come down, We’re going to Bennies!”
“Good, I want to eat there after everybody’s been talking about it.”
So that’s what we did. After dinner I told mom that I would take Cindy home and then talked to the boss; “Boss, I’ll give you the Thompson to put back in the armory. I only drew it in case Tony didn’t have one handy.” “Keep it. They may send something worse than sharks and that firepower may keep you alive.”
“I’m still taking my shotgun for the beach.”
I walked out to Dom’s boys; “Boys, Dom wants you back Monday morning. Tara’s keeping him down below over the weekend.”
“Ok, Sal. That works better for Dom anyway. We’re all tired of seeing him so worn out.”
Dom came out and took Tara over to the warehouse to drop off their clothes
I carried Sillia over to the warehouse. As I setting her in the wheelchair she grabbed me, kissed me and said; “Tomorrow.”
I said; “Ok, Cindy, let’s get going.”
“So are you and Sillia closing the deal tomorrow?”
“We plan to.” “Good, I like her. She’s always been after you. It’s about time you noticed.”
“So do you have anybody?”
“Not yet. But who knows what will happen. At least you get to Change. I’m about the last one without a tail.”
“That will come. At least you know it’s coming before it happens. Somehow they neglected to tell me.”
“Well if you had kept coming around you would have known. Why didn’t you?”
“Cindy, right now I couldn’t tell you. After I started fighting the monsters I sort of felt that if I stayed away that they would too. I thought that I was protecting you from the horrors that I was dealing with. That turned out to be wrong. By trying to protect you, by dad trying to protect me we ended up with everybody more vulnerable, not less. That was a mistake. Of course it would have helped to know that there was light in our world as well as the dark. When all you deal with was monsters, things get ugly and you don’t want to share the ugliness.”
“Well now you know that there is joy along with the dark. And that you are not alone.”
We talked some more as I drove her home. As she got out of the car she said; “Ok, Sal, you come back and tell me about Change.”
She got out of the car and I headed over to the apartment. To pack for my big day.
The chapters so far.
Chapter 4, part 1(Now chapter 5.)
Chapter 5, part 2.
Chapter 5, part 3.
Chapter 6 part 1.
Chapter 6, part 2.
Chapter 6, part 3.