Electric Boogaloo, Chapter 1: Pal Joey

It had taken a while, but Joey had just about convinced Tina Fey to strip naked and ravish him when he was inopportunely woken up. “Goddamn it, Glasses. Couldn’t you have waited for a minute?”

His companion ignored the comment. “We’re here,” he said from the passenger seat in their van.

“Here” was  across the street from warehouse 13 at the West Manhattan docks. Once, the warehouse had been the center of Xanatos Enterprises’ shipping operations within the island. However, business had been eventually moved elsewhere, and the warehouse fell into disuse. While still technically owned by Xanatos, the rotting building had since become the home to a number of unsavory parties. Right now, it’s owners were The Foot, who used it to store their heroin after it was shipped into the city. Given the worth of the drugs, the stash was usually heavily guarded; however, given their recent leadership troubles and internal civil war, their security had now been reduced to a skeleton detail.

“You guys ready?” complained Tony, the van’s third passenger. “I’d like to get this over with sometime soon.”

“Right,” Joey said, picking up his assault rifle from its hidden nook in the car seat, and making sure it was properly loaded and ready. Joey really wished they were lasers—they left behind far less forensic evidence for the police to find—but those had become increasingly hard to come by, even if one had far more resources than they did right now. These would have to do.

The hours leading to the assault had been characterized by the usual camaraderie and dark humor. However, the mafioso really hadn’t been able to get into it. Bravado aside, the truth was that most men in the squad were in their forties, and had remained outside the scene for more than five years. They had the numbers—their group numbered twelve—but that was their only obvious advantage (and from what he’d heard of the Foot, it wasn’t much of one). Tony had been adamant, however, insisting that they couldn’t waste the opportunity that Puzzorelli had granted them. He hoped his friend was right.

* * *

For nearly four decades, O’Toole’s had been the establishment of choice for the policemen in north Manhattan. First opened by Jane O’Toole in 1947, it quickly attracted throngs of exhausted lawmen just exiting their shifts. When O’Toole died of a heart attack in 1973, the place was bought and remodeled by then-Deputy Commissioner James Bradford, who since leaving the force in 1985 now served as its main barkeep.

Elisa Maza had been a regular at the O’Toole’s for nearly three years. Every night at 7:00, she would drink her usual, then spend the next few hours sobering up in time for her shift. In the meantime, she would speak, listen, and commiserate with the other patrons. Tonight, this meant Longer.

Detective Longer had grown infamous for his obsessive vendetta against New York-based arms dealer Ruffington. Over the last two years, he had single-handedly done everything in his power to investigate the entrepreneur, leading to his high-profile arrest. Unfortunately for Longer, it didn’t take: whether by shoddy evidence or simply very good defense lawyers, Ruffington got out from most of the charges. Longer, in return got harshly disciplined, being demoted to working the evidence room at One Police Plaza. The punishment had not agreed with him, and he could now be seen most nights at O’Toole’s, drowning his sorrows over a pint or three.

“I don’t get it Maza. The city’s going to hell—you’ve seen it. The murder rate’s going up, and we’ve got what—three officers down in as many weeks?”

“Four. Morgan told me Travanti got shot down earlier today. He’s okay, but he’ll be out of rotation for a few weeks?”

“Who?—anyway, they should be calling up every available man. And I’m still stuck here because the brass wouldn’t be able to see good police if bit them in the ass.”

Elisa didn’t say anything. Although Longer was indeed good police, he was far from being a victim. Ruffington aside, the detective had a definite history of bending, if not outright breaking, regulations; frankly she’d expected this to happen sooner or later.

* * *

As it turned out, the assault on the building had turned out to be simple one. What came afterwards was very much not so.

After securing the warehouse, the group was moving the product to their vans when they were approached by two men. The first, a lanky man of indeterminate ethnicity, was dressed rather dapperly in a white suit and wide-brimmed hat of the same color. His companion, the larger of the two by a considerable margin, wore black. They did not appear to be armed.

“Look at this, Mr. Touch,” said the smaller man. “It appears we have been beaten to the punch.”

“Indeed, Mr. Go. How rude.”

“What the hell is this?” Tony snarled. “You’ve got three seconds to explain why we shouldn’t kill you two.”

“Observe, Mr. Touch. Mr. Mafioso here thinks he is being funny. Sadly, he is quite mistaken about who’s killing who. What say you we should help him better understand his situation?”

Joey had seen several weird things in his life. He’d seen a man who’d been shot twelve times last for an hour before finally dying. He’d seen another make an eight story jump and escape unharmed. Still, nothing could prepare him to witness how, in violation of all human logic, an unarmed Touch and Go would defeat 12 armed men in the most grisly fashion possible; how Three-Fingered Johnny had simply stopped looking human after one punch from Mr. Touch, and how the pair seemed to be immune to any bullets that managed to hit them Already, he could see several of those still living struggling to escape the carnage. It looked like an excellent idea. If he still had use of his legs, he’d be doing the same thing. However, one kick from thin one—Mr. Go? Had to be—had rendered them unusable…if they were even still there. He wasn’t sure they were, and he didn’t wish to confirm the suspicion. He wished like hell that he would lose consciousness, and then he’d wake up in the hospital, and he could tell Janine and Sasha that he loved them and never wanted to see them go. However, only the first of these happened, as a stray bullet passed through his left ear and into his brain.

* * *

“Hey, Maggie, turn the TV up!” one of the policemen at O’Toole’s asked the forty-year old bartender, who readily complied.

“—located the bodies. So far 11 have been found, although they do not rule out finding more,” the reporter at the television said.

“Whazzgoingon?” Longer asked, as he returned from the bathroom.

“People dead. Warehouse. West side,” Elisa answered, without taking her eyes away from the screen.

The detectives stared transfixed at the TV, as details came in. Apparently, shots had been heard coming from the warehouse, and the police had been called in to investigate. By the time they’d arrived—half an hour after the initial call—a fire had begun consuming the place.

“Although sources inside the NYPD could not be reached for comment, we have been informed that a press conference on the matter will be held tomorrow. This is Travis Marshall, with Nightwatch.”

For a minute, neither policeman said anything. Twelve deaths was bad enough; combined with the recent overall increase in violence and the NYPD’s slow response time…

Elisa felt her cellphone vibrate in her pocket. As she scanned the bar, she could see that the same was happening to almost every policeman there. Longer’s tinderbox, it seemed, had just caught fire.

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