Sal and Ness. (A Chicago Down Excerpt)

Greetings everyone,

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 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 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.”

“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 2018 Wanda S. Paryla

The Poison that Stole My Creativity

Greetings!  Please forgive any typing errors or crazy sentences, and for some of you, I believe you may see two font sizes here. I guess that’s the difference between typing on my phone and typing on the computer. I shall try to fix this the next time I get on the computer. LOL!. It has taken me several days to write this, and I may not have edited it well. And most of all, please forgive the length. I am good for writing lengthy blogs, but this one may take the cake due to the subject matter.

Okay. I thought maybe I was losing my mind. I thought maybe I was depressed. Then I thought that – once again- I had writer’s block. It’s been so bad, as you can see, I have neglected my blog for almost a year. I couldn’t even right a blog!

I’m on the fence when it comes to writer’s block.  I’m not really sure if I believe in the concept. Or maybe I just don’t have a deep enough understanding of writer’s block. Maybe because there are several definitions of writers block, each according to each individual writer’s perspective.

I believe that writer’s block can be caused by one or many things. Often procrastination, sometimes illness,  most often distractions from life. Those distractions are ones we actually allow.  We need to take time to write, don’t we? Record that block time in your datebook; stick to it.

I have projects on the table, things I’ve been working on for months, even years. A book that was filling up with poetry, and so many other things. Even an editing project or two.

I was in the midst of writing – attempting to write – Chicago Down when I realized that I can’t. I just can’t. Nothing’s changed in my head. I can see it, feel it, hear it, taste it. But it won’t come out. It just will not travel from my brain through my arms and hands onto the page (or the computer screen as it were).

I did not notice it at first. It came on so slowly. And then just one day it hit hard. I stopped. It reminded me of when a bird flies into a clean, clear glass window. How he just slams into it and then drops to the ground and flutters around down there. Sometimes he doesn’t recover. That seemed to be me.

I was…still am…unable to control my own creative mind and thought processes. I begged my Muse desperately for help. Believe it or not, I even talked to the long-dead Al Capone. Asking him for inspiration. Literally speaking scenarios aloud or picturing them in my head and asking him what should I write? What would you write? What should I do? The truth is, I didn’t really need those answers. I could see it just like always. What I was asking for was a way to take that film out of my head and put it on the page like I have for the last 35 years! I was asking Al, and Muse, how to write it out on the page, not actually what to write, but how to write it…onto the page! Get it?

Every time I write fiction lately it reads more like a newspaper article than a fictional story. Thankfully I’ve not had too many problems with poetry. No matter what type of poetry or how long or short the piece. That could be because of the rhyming words. Maybe? *Shrug* Your guess is as good as mine.

For months I contemplated why my ocean was drained of writing powers. Where are my mermaids, unicorns and flying fish?

I tried to do everything to get it back. Whatever “it” is. I call it writer’s block, but the problem is, I have no problem imagining things the way I have for the last three decades! I just cannot get my arms, fingers and brain to communicate with each other. It’s sort of like…say…you can see a word in your head and you can hear yourself or someone else pronounce it, but when you go to speak it, you’re mute. That’s me. That’s how I feel right now. I’m creatively mute. I can see it, but can’t speak it…or write it out, as it were.

I spoke with fellow writers about it. Talked to other artists. I set blocks of time for writing where I just sat in front of my computer and did nothing. Or typed aimless sentences because that seemed to work for me and others in the past.

To fuel my creativity, I looked up real facts on the internet; looked at newspaper articles, etc, and would copy and paste them into the timeline of the novel so that I could rewrite them in my own words. Adding things in between like fake situations and circumstances.

Wow. That didn’t work. It looked horrible. Sounded horrible.

Then one day at the physician’s office, I was complaining about all sorts of things. The poor doc! Then she said to me, it’s your beta blocker. I was like, what? Now this was some time ago. Deep in my heart I felt it was the medication. Fast forward, I tried another medication and it made me almost lose my mind. I actually would sort of black out, and it seemed like I woke up in another place. Sometimes it would take me several seconds to get my bearings. I don’t like that, and I certainly don’t like the idea of that happening to me on an interstate by a toll booth during rush times.

So, doc put me back on my original beta blocker. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t. That’s how I look at it. There’s really not many other medications that I can try. So, now, with some professional help, I am working to break through the barrier that the beta blocker has built.

The doc said that I can absolutely break through it. She said it’s sort of like when people have a brain injury, or stroke, or some kind of mental trauma in their lives that happened to them, and they have to relearn things, or regain memories. She said I have to break through; I can break through, and the brain will react similarly to when people’s brains forge new pathways after a physical or mental trauma.

So I had to dig through boxes to find some writer workbooks I purchased in the past. I bought them with interest, but then found a project and never really worked with them, so I have great books now to use to help me out. Ms. Professional Nut-curer told me to utilize the lessons. And to read, read, read fiction, especially smaller novella-type books. She said to read shorter novels and short stories so that I don’t lose interest in the middle of a story. The beta blocker is also causing a sort of attention deficit, but only where reading and writing (anything at all) is concerned and I need to stick to shorter stories for now. She said if I read a few pages and my Noodle is urging me to stop and go eat ice cream or play on Facebook, I must overcome and read one more page. But, I do need to stop when I cannot recall what I just read on the extra pages, or can’t decipher the meaning behind the scenes if there is one.

I am fighting this. Unfortunately for me, I am terribly sensitive to medications. I have rarely taken them in my life for this reason. One of the results is my high tolerance to pain being that over-the-counter meds like Naproxen or Ibuprofen is about all I can tolerate. Also, I’ve been a very low user of penicillin and other antibiotics, hence my high positive response to them. Only these last 3-4 years have I been a avid user of antibiotics due to a chronic condition that causes colon infections and powerful antibiotics are often needed. Anyway, let me put it this way… if a medication side affect is dizziness or sleepiness, etc…look out. I’ll be passed out somewhere before you know it.

I take a beta blocker for a rapid heart beat with no known cause, at this time. One day around New Year’s Day, 2016, I was drinking a wine product. I had about 4 ounces in a glass. I drank most of it over a period of 30 minutes. My heart rate increased quickly, stayed high for a couple of days along with my blood pressure, and I ended up in a hospital emergency room where I stay for three nights. I never drank a wine product again…because I can’t.

As an update, my heart and all it’s parts are perfectly healthy. In fact, the doc that did the angiogram said that if he had not seen me…he would’ve thought I was 10 years younger than my age…I was actually 46. He said I have a very healthy heart, my arteries are free of plaque, etc. Later that year, October, I had a Doppler on my legs. Thoroughly on the right leg. The person who performed it stated the same thing about my leg arteries. They both encouraged me to take caution and care for my healthy heart and arteries…literally telling me how lucky I am. I believe them.

Getting back to the beta blocker story. I am now working through the block(er) with the suggested mental and creative exercises. Also using meditation when I can. And of course, I just keep on trying to write my stories. I keep on trying even if it means I just stare at the last sentence I wrote three weeks earlier, or even just blinking my eyes at a blank MS Word page. Or staring at a photo of Al Capone, or of a river at dawn, or of my favorite place – a beach of South Padre Island.

I find it so hard to believe that such a low dose of this medication has had such a negative impact upon my creativity and though processes. But, alas, here it is. And it does other things as well…like give me the skin creepy-crawlies, and cause odd dreams, and sometimes nightmares.

I just want to encourage you all to take a look at your medications if you think you have become different because of one of them or a combination of meds. And, try to do something about it before taking one medication leads you to take another medication to relieve you of a side effect of another. Sometimes doctors and pharmacists do not realize it’s your medications. Never, ever feel afraid or too intimidated to tell them that you do feel it’s your med. That almost happened to me. Doc thought I’d need sleeping pills or an anti-depressant, etc.

My sleeplessness is caused from the pill building up in my system. My depression is caused from my inability to do the one thing in this world that relieves my stress and tension. The one thing that I’m good at. The only thing that I’m good at. I thought, at one point, I was becoming useless and worthless. How odd that we label ourselves in such ways.

We are thinking I should take the medication in a time-released option. I may try it.

A friend of mine was on several medications. A family member of his complained to me that my friend’s behavior was very odd. I inquired about medications he was on. When he told me what they were, I named two and said those should not be taken together. It just so happened that they were prescribed by two different doctors and my friend did not tell the docs truthfully what he was being prescribed by the other. Turns out that I was correct and his medications were changed. I’m glad because they were clashing something terrible.

Just be careful of your meds. The doc doesn’t always know best. But you do. If a negative effects persist for more than a couple weeks, call the doctor. But if the effect is too overbearing, do not wait for several days to go by as it can ruin you. We all know it takes time sometimes for a negative side effect to work itself out. But don’t let it set you on fire. Speaking of fire. I was prescribed a steroid for inflammation, and even though I had read the possible side effects, I didn’t realize one was telling me to stop taking it. I continued through the whole prescription. I now have permanent high blood pressure brought on by the prolonged use of the steroid because I did not recognize my discomfort as a side effect. I never had high BP in my life not brought about an illness or condition. My usual BP was always normal. Not anymore. Now I take blood pressure medication and my BP may never again be normal…all because of the side effects of another medication. Sadly, a medication I probably didn’t need.

So for those of you who have been waiting for a book after the New Year, it may not happen. But do not give up on me, or be disappointed in me…I will come back. I just hate it when promises are broken. I hate it when people are broken too. Please forgive me for that. It’s been out of my hands. But I will make a come back. Me and my Noodle…and Muse, and Al Capone.

As always, thank you for reading.


Chicago Down- Cover Blurb

Greetings all,

I’m working on a draft of Chicago Down’s back cover description.  Here’s a peek at what I’ve compiled from the short synopsis so far. I’m still working on trying to dwindle it a bit more.


Salbatora vows to honor her father’s last request: find Eliot Ness to help free her brother who was wrongly arrested for Prohibition violations. She abandons her Texas home, leaving behind memories, and the living dead.

Ness isn’t the only thing Sal finds. Chicago struggles under Prohibition. While its citizens covertly indulge in spirits, a sinister darkness grows. Born of greed, it’s more disturbing than a lust for alcohol. While gangsters battle over territories, the undead have no preference as they run amok, and the Illinois governor has lost his mind to a madcap plot to corral Chicago’s mounting zombie populace.

An unlikely team, Sal Guerrera, Eliot Ness, and Al Capone form an unusual camaraderie as they fight the Screamin’ Mimis, as Al calls them. They develop a strategy to deter the governor’s plan which will collapse the weakened city. But can they end the evil’s terrorizing hold? When they learn how the dead sprang to life, they must strike at the source to set Chicago free. And they may not survive alive.

Chicago, are you ready for your unsung heroes? (Note: this line is slated for the cover, as opposed to the back blurb.)

Copyright 2017 Wanda Paryla


Greetings, All,

It seemed as if I disappeared, didn’t it? I did, but I found myself in a closet sucking on a pacifier and drooling. Eh. It wasn’t the first time that I’ve found myself hiding from my responsibilities. I once found myself hiding in an ocean wave off of the coast of Texas complaining to Poseidon of the ills of being mortal.

When I was about eleven years-old, I looked for myself for hours on a hot August day in Central Texas. I was in the woods talking to a mound of fire ants about the dangers of talking to strangers. Odd, isn’t it, what and who a child can befriend without judgment?

Then there was that time down in Marion, Illinois… Never mind. Well, okay, and that time in West Virginia when I lost myself in a staring contest with a yellow spider. That really was about the only time that I was glad that I found myself.


In truth, this is not the first time that I’ve played the disappearing act, shucking my obligations as writer of blogs. Or poetry. Or fiction. Or Memoirs. Pfft. I’m a pro.

I especially tend to start my shucking around the time a set of characters starts dishing the heat. I have a problem with fire, you see. And I really don’t like being told what to do. I’m in such a predicament as we speak. Er, or type and read. Whatever.

So I’ve been hiding from my characters again. Just as I finished an outline for Chicago Down, complete with a little tear-jerker moment that I can’t wait to add to the manuscript, I fled the scene like dirty cop on a wild horse. Oh…what? You liked that descriptive sentence? Me too!

Anyway, this blog was not only to let you know that I am back, but also to amuse you a bit. Be happy. Ride wild horses. Or drink Wild Turkey. Whatever floats your holey canoe.

Thanks for reading!

Oh P.S.: If you’re a lady local to the Chicago area, especially the Southwest area suburbs, check out my Events page, I’ll be doing an book signing on June 3, 2017, in Joliet, IL, at a ladies-only event.

Re-blog: Just Write (Advice I should take!)

I am often asked how I come up with my posts. At first I took my prompts from fortune cookies, but those got old after awhile. Truthfully I simply write when I feel like writing and I feel like writing all the time. When I look back over my posts I consider most “sloppy” and […]

via Just Write — HarsH ReaLiTy

Chicago Down (a Meme & More)

Chicago Down

Talk about foreshadowing.  Can you see it?


“Never call me Toots again, Al,” Sal said.

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Know what?”

“What? You about to cast a kitten?” Al said.

“Cast a what?” Sal demanded, eyebrows drawn together hard. “What, you ass?”

“Don’t fuck with me, girl, or you’ll end up in worse shape than that Screaming Meemie I just bashed.”

“Oh, stop. You’re not gonna do shit.”

“You’re something. What happened to hard boil a sweet, young thing like you?”

I’ve never been sweet.”

Copyright 2016 Wanda Paryla

Chicago Down (an excerpt)

CHICAGO DOWN (Updated 5/28/17)

“There’s something I know about Al Capone’s life and death that the rest of the world does not. Because history is inaccurate. But, I knew him. I was there the day he died. So, I know. You can believe me or not. Doesn’t matter.

Al was by no means perfect. He could be cruel. Monstrous at times even. But Chicago owes him. It’s a bill that they’ll never pay. It’s a debt they don’t even know they own.” – Salbatora Guerrera

Wanda Paryla Copyright 2016