The Commission had finally ordered a hit on Dutch Schultz.
The official reason had to do with protecting Special Prosecutor Thomas Dewey. Dutch planned to kill Dewey, which would bring down more heat than the select members of Charlie’s “board of directors” were comfortable with. In reality, Charlie and his partner Meyer had a good excuse to rid themselves of the troublesome Dutchman and divide up his remains.
Faolan had his own reasons.
The Dutchman would die by his hand tonight if it was his last act in this world. He would need to stay sharp for this one given his current condition.
His gums ached like a sonofabitch.
“Hey Piggy,” Bug called back, twenty minutes into their ride. “Just so’s you know, I got dibs on rolling the stiffs once the job’s done.”
They were in Newark now nearing their destination. “You wanna waste time searching the Dutchman’s pockets? Knock yourself out.”
“Hey, that’s one of our perks. Commission okayed it for—”
“Quit beating your gums, we’re here,” Faolan told him, scanning the front of the Chophouse as they pulled up. His watch read ten thirty. For the last few weeks, Schultz had been holding court in the back room of this place.
The street was deserted: brick-faced shops, cement pavement, and stone tenements glistened in the damp. Through the front windows flanking the door, Faolan couldn’t see anyone in the barroom except the bartender. He popped his door and got out as soon as the car came to a stop. Bug did the same, a Winchester pump shotgun in hand. Weiss remained in the idling car by prior agreement.
“Bartender to the left, behind the bar.”
“I got him,” Bug said, pushing past him to the front door. Faolan noticed how the reflected neon from the sign overhead turned a nearby puddle into a pool of blood. His stomach rumbled.
Opening the door, Bug stepped through with his shotgun leveled. “Don’t move. Lay down.”
Anticipation and adrenaline combined to make Faolan feel super alive and hyper-aware. He saw the individual threads that made up the weave of Bug’s overcoat and heard the tiny squeaks of leather shoes as his so-called partner walked across the linoleum floor of the bar. As Faolan moved to follow, the roar of the car’s engine outside and the smell of exhaust and ozone in the air threatened to sweep him away like the finest trumpet solo Satchmo ever played.
His long strides caught up with Bug’s as they moved down the narrow aisle between the long bar and the little tables pushed up against the right wall. Faolan heard the bartender—now face-down behind his bar—muttering prayers under his breath. He smelled the bartender’s sweat, the fear in it, and the scent excited him.
The place was lit by a row of frosted globes hanging down over the bar and Faolan caught a reflected flash off the farthest table. Bug passed it, oblivious, as he continued into the short corridor that led past the bathrooms to the small dining room in the back.
On a table near the men’s room door lay a nickel-finished 1911 model Colt .45 right next to the salt and pepper. Faolan snatched it up and dropped it into his coat pocket without breaking stride. He didn’t get why so many hoods favored Colts. Its ejector had a habit of jamming and its accuracy was a joke, but he wanted a back-up gun.
He pulled back the hammer on his revolver as they entered the back room. Ugly green walls, dingy carpets, chipped booths, and scratched tables: this little shit-hole in the wall was the best Dutch could do for a temporary headquarters? Schultz was a cheapskate to the bitter fucking end.
Faolan slides into his killing groove and time seems to slow.
His crystal blue eyes scan the room, empty except for the three men at the far corner table. Before they so much as blink, Bug’s shotgun speaks, blowing a hole in the side of fat old Abadabba Berman and setting Faolan’s sensitive ears to ringing.
Plug the accountant first. Nice thinking, shithead!
Lulu Rosencrantz—a gorilla wearing a tin Deputy Sheriff badge that allows him to carry—draws his heater as he rises. Faolan fires.
To his grooving eyes, it’s as if Lulu’s shirt blossoms with a carnation made of blood. He fires again as Abadabba settles onto the table-top, moaning.
Another carnation forms on Lulu’s chest.
Bug pumps his shotgun, ejecting the empty shell.
Faolan shifts his barrel an inch and takes aim at—
Tall, skinny, and bald: Abe Landau, another hitter. Where’s Schultz? Where the fuck’s the Dutchman?
Faolan fires anyway, punching a shot through the upper shoulder of Landau’s business arm as the hitter reaches for his piece.
Ignoring the cramp building in his shooting arm, Faolan fires again. He watches the bullet pass through Landau’s arm and hit Lulu in the right wrist as the gorilla clears his Colt from his shoulder rig.
Ignoring his shattered wrist, Lulu tips the table forward for some cover—spilling poor Abadabba onto the floor—as he and Landau both take aim.
Bug’s shotgun roars a second time, buckshot splashing across the tabletop, Lulu’s chest, and Abadabba’s back.
Forcing himself to remain steady despite the shiver traveling up from his toes, Faolan fires again.
This shot hits Lulu’s right elbow, ruining the arm but doing nothing to prevent the lefty from shooting back at them.
The first shot goes wild as Bug ejects his spent round and Faolan lines up his last shot between Lulu’s eyes.
Landau’s first shot is better, catching Faolan in the shoulder—
There’s no pain, but the bullet’s impact throws his aim and wastes his last round. Beside him, Bug turns tail and runs. Faolan drops the empty revolver and reaches in his pocket for—
The Colt … Laying right near the bathroom!
Dutch is known to carry a Colt like this one stuffed into his waistband. If he were on his way out and needed to use the john, he might set the gun down first.
Yanking out the .45, Faolan ducks back into the corridor as bullets smash into the paneling around him. As he gets to the bar side, he sees Bug behind the bar trying to open the register. Schmuck.
Even though the entire exchange of gunfire only took half a minute at most, Schultz must be on the alert. Readying the Colt, Faolan pushes open the men’s room door.
His quarry, one Arthur Flegenheimer, who is better known as Dutch Schultz, does indeed wear his white fedora and gray topcoat as if preparing to go out. A stall door is still swinging closed and he’s in the act of rushing toward the door when Faolan enters. He skids to an awkward stop, looking a bit unsteady on his feet.
They lock eyes for just a second.
Stocky and below average height, Dutch has the looks of a bank clerk and the social grace of a racetrack bookie. He’s worth millions but wears two dollar shirts and off-the-rack suits. Tonight, he reeks of beer and his fly is still open. Dutch Schultz is a man who will never have class.
A loud ding! announces Bug’s success in opening the register.
Dutch turns away.
Faolan’s finger tightens on the trigger.
A bullet slams into the door just behind his head—his shot goes low, ripping into Dutch’s abdomen rather than his heart.
Clenching his teeth against the pain, Faolan sees Landau and Lulu stagger into view like a pair of monsters from a nightmare.
Bug scurries around the bar, stuffing a handful of cash into his coat pocket, and runs flat out for the door. Faolan turns back to Dutch. One shot just isn’t enough.
Another bullet strikes the floor by his right foot just as he fires—
The shot goes wide, hitting the tiles of the back wall as Dutch stumbles back into the urinal and drops to the floor. Goddamn Colts!
Landau and Lulu stumble into the corridor, raising their guns.
Fuck! Faolan runs for the door. Bug, however, makes the mistake of glancing back as he reaches the end of the bar and puts a foot wrong—
The stocky gunman flies forward, ass over tea-kettle, and kisses linoleum near the phone booth in the corner. His shotgun skids to the front door.
Up ahead, the cigarette machine takes a few rounds, but Faolan waits until he makes it to the front door to risk a glance.
The wound on Landau’s shoulder is worse than Faolan thought: the bullet severed an artery and jets of blood pulse out in a heartbeat rhythm while the thin man continues to stagger toward him. The sight is morbidly engrossing.
Behind Landau limps the bloody monstrosity that is Lulu Rosencrantz, also fighting to lift his gun and fire.
Grabbing the shotgun, Faolan gets the door open and rushes out. He dives into the cover of the idling Packard and throws the shotgun down behind the passenger seat.
“Step on it, they’re coming!”
Weiss hits the gas and the Packard speeds off. Faolan looks out the back window and sees Landau stumble out onto the sidewalk after them, still firing. One step: blood still squirting from his neck. Two steps … Landau collapses into a set of trash cans against the wall of the Chophouse.
The groove ends.
Faolan’s senses snapped back to normal. His heartbeat began to slow.
“Shit!” Weiss cried. “We left Workman!”
Faolan saw The Bug run into the street at that very moment, chasing their dust. Still wasn’t too late to stop and pick him up.
“Nah,” Faolan told Weiss, reaching into his jacket for his Camels. “He went out through the kitchen.”
Let the little fucker walk home.