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Written by Chris Ryan

After a second count, Cahill Ferguson was sure it was actually ten guns were pointing at them. He turned to Arron Day and grinned. "Hope yer quick," he whispered.

            Then he stood up, addressing the mobsters. "Glad ye finally decided to join us, lads."

            A short, thick gangster in the middle seemed amused. "Join youse? We’re here to kill youse, ya moron!"

            Cahill didn’t move. He just leveled an eye so sure even Blackjack wondered what he had up his sleeve.  "Then Lucky Luciano himself will kill you, sure as I’m standing here."

            "You don’ know what your talkin’bout. Lucky’s the one sent us."

            "Then he’s a more patient man than me, y’damn fool. We’re not the one needs killing," Ferguson pointed to the dying priest. "Whoever did this to the priest, Father Romano, who married Lucky Luciano himself, that’s who needs killing."

            Shorty merely raised his gun higher. The other nine guns raised as well. All pointed right at Cahill’s chest. "I’ll decide who needs killin’round here."

            Cahill marched right toward the guns.

            Shorty was shocked.    "Ay! Where you tink you goin?"

            Cahill pushed passed, marching on, turning the mobsters around as he walked through them.  "We have but two minutes to save that good man’s life. I’m calling an ambulance and praying it proves faster than The Lord’s own Angel of Death," Cahill turned now, locking the thugs’ eyes with his own. He had their full attention. "And the Angel of Death moves swiftly indeed."

            Blackjack knew a cue when he heard one. He grabbed a large metal garbage can, heaving it onto two mobsters. He flung the can’s lid dead-on, stunning another. Using a low hanging fire escape,  swinging up with one hand, he leaped, letting forward momentum carry him. The force of his own large athletic frame landing on three others knocked them down, guns skittering across the alley floor. Without pause, Blackjack rolled to his feet, snatched the garbage can once more, and brought it across first one, then another surprised would-be shooter. All of eight seconds had passed. The ninth got the honor of  knockout by fist.


            Before he could gasp, Shorty was standing alone against a very much alive spirit of vengeance. Shaking, he raised his lone gun toward Blackjacks much more formidable form.

            Cahill Ferguson took that option away with one swipe of his Blackthorn.

            "Who are youse guys?" Shorty spat, throbbing hand cradled near his chest.

            Ferguson leaned in close to Shorty’s face. "We’re ta be yer boss’s next appointment. Have yer men get the good Father an ambulance, and a priest. You, lead us to El Capo, my friend."

            Shorty looked at the old Mic who wrecked his hand, then the huge colored now stowing all their guns into a canvas bag, and finally, at his groaning or unconscious crew. So this was what the final night of his life was going to be like. He nodded to a bruised mobster struggling to stand. The thug wobbled off to call for an ambulance. Shorty himself began what he was sure would be the last walk of his life.

            Blackjack fell in alongside Cahill Ferguson. "What do you think you’re doing?"
"Getting us help on the case, lad," Cahill answered happily.
That tone of strained patience returned to Blackjack’s voice. "I am not working with the mob."

Cahill paused for several seconds, apparently deep in thought. He came back with a pat to Arron Day’s back. "You got a point there, big fella. I agree. You should not work with the mob. You work with me. All right then?"

Blackjack began to nod.
"And I’ll work with the mob," Cahill said. A playful twinkle shone in his eye as he walked ahead of the flustered global adventurer.
Without hesitation, Cahill Ferguson entered a nondescript restaurant, following closely behind Shorty. 
"Fools rush in," Blackjack murmured, shaking his head. This little Irishman is good, he had to admit, but he is not good enough to get me to walk into this den of killers and be outnumbered and outflanked.

No way. This is naive. Reckless.

Full of reluctance and a very bad feeling in his gut, Blackjack opened the thick wooden door.
A tall, broad gorilla in an expensive suit blocked his path. "No coloreds allowed. Bad enough the Mic--"

Blackjack swallowed the man’s shirt and silk tie in his right fist, pulling the outraged bouncer from darkness inside the door to the relative streetlight brightness of the sidewalk in one smooth motion.
The first slam against the restaurant’s stone front wall seemed only to anger the brute. The second, far more forceful impact, got his attention.

"The name is Day, Mr. Day to you. Let’s be clear. I am not presently at odds with your employer, and I am not looking to start any problems. But I am going to accompany Mr. Ferguson. Anything you do to stop me will be considered an act of war ... and will be met as such. Do you understand?"

"Go right in, Mr. Day," was all the gorilla could manage.

Blackjack released him, returned to the door. Just before entering Blackjack turned, showing the winded thug what was in his left hand -- the gun for which the mobster was frantically searching. Blackjack dropped this piece into the canvas bag he’d picked up in the alley, adding it to the other guns. The mobster cursed, though a smile of professional admiration flickered as well.

Inside, Blackjack’s keen eyes needed a moment to adjust, and another to find Cahill Ferguson. When he did locate the Irishman, he found himself wishing he hadn’t.

There was Cahill Ferguson at a corner table, breaking bread with the infamous Mafia boss, Lucky Luciano.
Illegal gambling. Speakeasies. Drugs. Extortion. Prostitution. Murder. This was what Blackjack saw sitting across from Cahill Ferguson. And the old man was clinking wine glasses with it.
Cold steel interrupted the thought, as a gun muzzle touched Blackjack’s temple. Another henchman, this one coming from shadows that Arron was sure held many more such playmates.

"You’re kind ain’t welcome in heah."
"I’ll say this once: Do not point guns at me."
Blackjack spoke loudly. Even Lucky Luciano was paying attention now, a crooked smirk playing up one side of his face.
"You ain’t in no position to make no demands--"

An iron grip encircled the gunman’s wrist. A pile driver fist drove through his elbow, shattering bone in numerous places. Blackjack withdrew his hands and caught the released gun - all before the canvas bag ever hit the ground.

He quickly dropped the gun into the bag, extending his arms so all could see he held no weapons.

Most witnesses didn’t seem to care. Guns flashed all around him in a deadly semi-circle that stretched from the either side of Luciano’s table to flank Blackjack.
He was not surprised.
Luciano was. He was reacting to what Cahill Ferguson whispered.
Luciano waved his men off. "Relax, boys. This guy’s with Fergie here."
The guns slid back under suit jackets, unhappy killers scowling but afraid to challenge the boss of bosses.

Luciano nodded to the stone figure before him, one scarred, heavily lidded eye helping to create the shark stare he now used on Blackjack.

"You feel like some pasta maybe?"

"No thank you."

"Glass of wine?"

"No thank you."


"No thank you."

"You come to visit, I have to feed you something. Otherwise, I feel bad."

"Your hospitality is appreciated, but I politely decline."

Luciano was visibly annoyed by the stalemate. Ferguson smoothed it over. "Please understand, Lucky, the man himself here is a professional soldier, constantly in training. He never knows when a contract will take him to a desert, or a jungle, where he won’t have food available. So he limits himself to one meal a day. Survival skills, ya’ understand."
Lucky eyed Ferguson, searching for the con. Cahill didn’t blink, his big blue eyes reflecting only the wide-open truth he had just now made up.

The gangster smiled at Blackjack. "A soldier. I can respect that."
Lucky Luciano glanced around at his men, calling them to attention. "See that? Self-discipline. The man lives by a Code. Leave this guy alone. He’s ahright." Then Lucky Luciano raised his glass and toasted the warrior before him. "Salud."
Blackjack fought back the crimson rising in his cheeks. He kept the contempt out of his eyes, allowing only a nod.
But he knew one thing.
He would never play poker with Cahill Ferguson.

The gleeful con artist wiped his lips with a linen napkin and smiled at the king of snakes. "Lucky, this is all well and good, but there’s killers out there stalking innocent civilians. Italians as well as Irish as well as Coloreds. Church going folk. Now priests, even. This is not good. This is not something we can have."

"Agreed," Lucky lit a long cigar, offered Cahill one. The old cop accepted, luxuriating in the thick cloud that rose when he exhaled. Lucky, already amused, offered one to Blackjack, who, of course declined. The mob boss eyed his men once more, scarred chin nodding and hand gesturing toward Arron Day with overt admiration. Then it was back to business.
His eyes met Cahill’s, sharp and alert. "Make no mistake, I am aware of who and what you are, or at least were," Luciano told Ferguson, "but this is bigger than our business differences. I will help you out, as a community service, and as a personal favor to you. What do you need?"
Ferguson moved right in. "Men. Lots of them. Combing Little Italy on the sly."

"Done. What are they looking for?"

"People putting up posters that read ‘Return to God.’ But your boyos mustn’t take these men down. We need to follow these people. Find where they are coming from."
Lucky seemed intrigued, like a Great White coming upon a gathering of swimmers. "These ‘Return to God’ guys, they’re the killers?"

Ferguson gave a slight shrug. "Lucky, I honestly don’t know yet. What I do know is that, every time something like the attack on Father Roman happens, right afterwards these posters show up. This is the only pattern I have right now."

"I don’t know that I buy your thinking, but my men will find these poster guys for you."
"I’ll check back every--"
"Got it covered. You stay in the neighborhood, we’ll reach out to you with the location, minutes after we find them."

Cahill Ferguson raised his bushy white eyebrows, nodding slowly.

Luciano was pleased with himself. "So? What are we waiting for?" He turned to this men. "Hit the streets. Keep it quiet. Do this quick. Go."
His men filed out without a sound, each eyeing Blackjack as they passed. He gave them nothing, his own stare seemingly on Lucky Luciano, though he remained acutely aware of each movement in the room. None of the tough guys made a move on him, however. No one dared go against Luciano’s direct order, no matter their own preferences.

Luciano himself was shaking hands with Cahill Ferguson as the Irishman picked up his Blackthorn. The old liar strolled passed Blackjack, and winked. Arron didn’t react, eyes remaining on Luciano.
The mobster, the killer, the shark now returned the look, a passive challenge. What now?
Blackjack carefully reached down, grasped the canvas bag, lifted it slowly. He held the bag over a nearby table, then gently dumped the contents out. The guns formed an impressive pile.


Blackjack left without another word.
End of Part III.

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