Here is another excerpt from Chicago Down. This a very rough first draft and is mostly dialogue – for a purpose, of course. I gave this a once over, so I’m sure that you’ll find something goofy in there. LOL. Thanks for reading…And please keep all Tommy Guns under your coats. 😉
SAL & NESS October 1931
A car skidded to a halt in front of Eliot Ness’s home. Salbatora Guerrera shoved the door open before the driver could make it around to her side.
“I can do it, David! I’m not helpless you know.”
“I know, Sal, I just…”
Sal stormed across the front lawn, fuming like a challenged rhino, leaves rustling and crackling as she treaded.
“Ness! You come out here!” She screamed. Ness!
“Sal,” David started toward her. “Someone’s going to call the cops.”
“Eliot! Eliot Ness!”
“Sal, please,” David pleaded.
“David,” her arm jutted outward, pointer finger aimed toward the car. “Get…your…ass…in the car!” Her teeth clenched together, and her cheeks were cherry red.
“Yes, ma’am,” David complied. He hurried to the driver’s side of the vehicle, but he kept vigil by the door.
“Eliot!” She screamed.
“Salbatora,” Ness was on the stairs.
“Eliot, what did you do?” Sal’s face was red and wet, her chest heaved from anger and Eliot thought she might hyperventilate. “I knew it would come to this. You!” She pointed an accusing finger. “You betrayed us.”
He came cautiously toward her, arms outstretched in surrender, palms facing her. “Take it easy, Salbatora.”
“What happened? Why did you go to the court?” Sal’s eyes welled with water. “Why did you let them destroy Al like that? Why?”
“You knew I was going, Salbatora. You knew I went. Why are you here, four months later?”
“I’m so disappointed.”
“Now, Salbatora. You know why I went. I need you to understand. Al does,” Eliot put his hands down and approached her. “Besides…he isn’t going down for bootlegging or prohibition violations is he? No. Some tax wise ass got the jump on me… Oh, never mind.”
“They gave him eleven years, Eliot. This is not a time for jokes.” she cried. “Please. If you have one shred of decency you will do something. Help Al.”
“I can’t, Salbatora. I wish I could. My hands are tied. I wish I was that guy…the one who could help you. But I don’t have that kind of power.”
“That’s okay,” Sal straightened herself up, smoothed out her coat. “Uh-huh.”
“Salbatora,” Eliot breathed a sigh. Something so simple, but Sal believed he couldn’t help. He looked so defeated.
“These asses running Chicago,” Sal said. “Running Illinois. They can try to cover it all up. Run it into the ground…what we did. You, me, Al, Bugs, and the Commissioner – God rest him. But, they can’t. And if they think for one minute that putting Al Capone in jail is going to change it, it won’t. He’s Al Capone. He’ll live forever…”
“Salbatora,” Eliot said, “there’s a big chance Al won’t even serve the full eleven years. Maybe half. But things are about to change. Chicago’s going to change. And, you know…”
“Eliot. Chicago will never change. It’ll always be home to barbarians who need tending to. This is Al Capone’s city. He can’t trust too many. But I’ll be here…in Chicago…to make sure it stays Al’s territory,” she trembled again, maybe from grief, or anger, but it was making Eliot Ness question the last couple of years of his own life. Question his own sanity. “They have no right to put Al in prison after all he’s done for them…this no good town! He doesn’t deserve to be in prison, Eliot. He doesn’t. He was good to everyone. Vultures!”
“Yes, Salbatora. He does. He belongs in prison. And he knows it, and you know it too,” Eliot took her gently by the arms, his voice low and soothing. “There’s nothing I can do, or you can do, to change events that were set in motion long before you came to Chicago. We can’t undo…”
“Oh, I’ll make them pay… I’ll kill them, every single one,” Sal said, hell bent on vengeance.
“Those bastard jurors…one by one, I’ll kill them. That’s right. And they’ll be scared, each of them, waiting and wondering which of them will be next. Holding their breaths…scared to death. Hiding…”
Eliot shook Sal a little. “Salbatora, listen to yourself. Those are innocent people…”
“Oh, Chicago needs a leader. They need a boss…and I’ll give them one. Me. I’ll be the father of this town until Al can return and take back what’s his. I’ll do that. I’ll kill them. And that judge. I’ll kill his whole family. I’ll blow that whole courtroom to hell…I’ll kill…”
“Salbatora!” Eliot yelled. “Nonsense. Stop it.
“He’s not bad. He did everything for me and Leandro, and he never asked to be paid back. Never. Nothing.”
“You are not a killer, Salbatora.”
“Oh, no?” Sal stepped back out of Eliot’s reach and opened her arms wide. “I am not?” She opened her coat to reveal her holstered weapon.”
“You have to wear that because you are in the Capone Family mess,” Eliot said. “You have to protect yourself from people that hate Al Capone.”
“Yes. Not just that. They look at me all nasty like I am some damned no good moll,” she raved.
Eliot shook his head. “No, Salbatora, you’re no…m”
“Not a moll?…unless you don’t consider a trouser-wearing-tommy-gun-toting woman a moll. I killed many people, Eliot. You know it.”
“Most of them were already dead. I mean, who else is there? Who? Roger McClennan? He was an idiot with half a brain. So what…and he left your best pal to die,” he ran his fingers through his hair. “Killer told us that the bastard didn’t want to wait.” He laughed, nervously. “So, you killed some people. But you are not THAT kind of killer.” He laughed.
“That kind of killer? What’s that? Funny, huh, Eliot? You’re…a killer too.”
“Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I’m a killer too,” he threw his hands up. He gave up. “Okay, Salbatora. You’re a killer. Is that what you want to hear? That you’re a murderer? Fine, then, be a fucking killer!”
“I will, then!”
“Good. Go ahead. See if I give one damn!”
Sal turned and slowly started toward the waiting car.
“Salbatora,” Eliot followed her to the car. “Please. We can argue all day. The only sense there is, is in you letting this go.”
“I cannot. I have everything because of Al. He gave me work. He taught me business. Made his ruffians treat me like a lady…like they’d treat Mae,” her memories were fine ones. “Mae. She taught me that I can still be strong willed when wearing a skirt,” she laughed, tickled by memories of her and Mae that Eliot didn’t share. “She hates trousers, you know,” she smiled at times past. “She taught me how to bake a turkey.”
Eliot felt her distress and uncertainty. He saw that despite her young age, just 20 years old, her youth had long gone. In fact, it was history before she ever met Al and him. And as for Al Capone, as she saw it, he may as well be dead.
“But you can still have that, Sal,” Eliot said. He was looking for any way to make her see what was right. To make her see that killing innocent people was not the answer. “Mae. She’s not going to jail. She’ll still be here for you. My God, Sal, can you imagine Mae running between prisons trying to keep up with you and Al?…The two idiots that drive her the most nuts? And what about Rudy? Huh? What’s going to happen to good ol’ sweet Rudy if you end up in the clink? Or dead?” He looked around, lost for words to describe the outcome. “That guy…brave as he is…is not too good at caring for himself, Sal. He can’t even boil an egg. Even Al said that himself…Rudy can’t boil water. He was always afraid to let Rudy have weapons,” he laughed. “But, that boy’s handy dandy with explosives and grenades. I’ll tell ya.”
There was silence for a few seconds. Nothing to be heard but the wind rustling the trees.
“I can’t let it go,” Sal said. “This is Al’s town. And I’ll keep it warm for him until he comes home, Eliot. And you can help me, or try hinder me, but it’s going to happen. Chicago needs a babysitter. Just so happens I’m free. And besides that…they already know me. And if those police and the rest of them law-wielding hypocrites don’t like it… I’ll burn this mother fucking town to the ground. Besides, there’s bigger fish to fry in this world.”
Gently, Eliot took Sal’s face in his hands. Just a last-ditch effort to talk sense into her. He couldn’t save Al, or himself, or Roger McClennan, but maybe, just maybe… “Sal, Al Capone is not your father. He’s not your father.”
Shattered. That was the outcome. Sal was crushed. Troubled, she stared at Eliot. He couldn’t move, couldn’t take his hands from her face. No thoughts came to him. His own words stunned him as much as they did Sal.
She stared at Eliot for a few seconds, tears streaming. “You’re right, Eliot,” she choked. “Al is not my father. I killed my father. He’s just another victim of mine.”
“You didn’t kill your father, Salbatora. You know that. He was…already… He was one of them,” Eliot stepped back, nodding his head, shoved his hands into his trouser pockets. “And you met Al Capone, and through him you gained another family. Your mother and father. Your sister, Nancy. Big brother, Pedro. You and Leandro…you lost them for good. And Al Capone and his people. His wife and his mother. They gave that back to you. Trust me, Salbatora – Savior, you were worthy of every minute of their time. Every dime you earned. Everything. Not to mention, you earned your short-lived place in history. But. Like me. Like Al. You’ll never be notorious again. Our time is ending, Sal.”
They stared at each other quietly. The sight of Eliot’s wife, Edna, caught her eye. She was standing on the porch. How much had she witnessed? Sal then looked the other way to find the driver, David, staring at her slack jawed, speechless.
“Not yet, Eliot. The book’s not done.” She walk toward the car.
“Stop,” he started toward her. “Come on now.”
She turned her back to Eliot and as she slid into the backseat, “David. Drive,” She slammed the door shut.
David looked at Eliot Ness and drove off as ordered.
Edna came down the stairs and met Eliot on his way to the house.
“Eliot, you’ve got to do something. I’m afraid Sal’s going to get killed.” She hugged Eliot tight. “What happened to our sweet-n-sour Sal?”
“I know,” he said. “I know what to do.”
Copyright 2022 Wanda S. Paryla
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