Meet Me At St Louis
Luna Su Strada Bourbon
St Louis – Little Italy
“Qc3, now why would Reti make that move?” he picks up the queen and moves it forward to avoid the bishop’s feint. He takes a sip of his Malvasia, a good year and a gift from old Mrs Esposito as thank-you for clearing her son’s name, five summers passed. As the liquid courses down his throat he is taken back to the beaches of Sicily, the vinyards rolling down the sun-drenched hill past the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbour. He savours the taste, the slight tinge of sharpness from the volcanic rock it grew in.
Capablanca will retort with a pawn move, the same pawn that little Eddy Falco had successfully promoted last week. The unalloyed joy Eddy had shown in his achievement brings a wry smile to his face. On an impulse he looks up across the hill. Under the flickering lamplight, he sees the small shadow of Eddy wandering past the Compton Hill Tower. He knows that Eddy’s mother is entertaining, she’s had no option since his father died early last year. He moves over to the larder and reaches for the chopping block. Mentally he runs through the list of options, his eye falls onto the Parmiagiana and Melzane, opting for this. He starts hollowing out the tomatoes for the recipe.
A tentative knock at the door, “Come in” Eddy moves into the room, Salvo gestures for him to start turning the Melzane in the flour. “I was preparing a little Pomodoro sauce to go with Melzane, looks like I may have cooked too much, would you like some?” the thinly veiled excuse helps to save Eddy trying to find the words to ask if he can stay. “Its critical that you turn the slices over, otherwise they’ll use up all of the oil and make it too dry to eat.” They settle companionably into preparing the dinner.
After sending him on his way with the leftovers, Salvo looks down upon the red trail smeared upon the plate, for a second it reminds him of blood, he looks up seeing the bared fangs of a monster in the mirror. He picks up the St Michael medal that his mother gave to him upon joining the force, holding it in his hands brings him back to his focus, and the beast recedes for a while.
His hip still hurts, the cold weather aggravates the wound, he draws his coat tighter around himself. He can’t be certain, but something tells him there is more to this rum runner than the normal criminal links. It has taken a lot of persuading, a lot of favours called in, but he’s found strange patterns, connections, all seemingly minor of insignificant, but when blended together they produce something as magnificent as a ‘mpanata di maiali and peperoni arrosto.
He has never subscribed to the idea of a shadow empire controlling everything, putting it down to the paranoid delusions best left to the Anarcists and the Bolsheviks. Its always been easier to put the misfortunes down to simpler base aspects like greed or lust and a series of unfortunate oversights, but now he can see there is a connecting force. There is something sitting, directing the activities, like a spider in its web.
The young bootlegger leaves the speakeasy <andy’s> and Salvo intends to follow him, when he sees a young hooded woman walking into an alleyway, followed behind by a man De Luca knows to be a violent thug. With a slight curse, he allows the briefest touch to his St Michael medal for luck, and moves towards the alley.
He is able to move quickly enough to cold-cock the thug before he lunges for the woman. She looks at him, more amused than scared, “You really are Fieramosca.” He catches the briefest hint of honeysuckle and lilacs from her, before realising that there is someone who has stolen up behind him. He barely makes out his form before a single punch fells him to the ground.
He awakens suddenly when the jug of ice-cold water is flung across his face. He can see the lout that punched him sitting on the chair across from him, a louche man in his twenties intently studying his fingernails and someone with the air of a cadaverous lawyer near the door. He settles himself, detecting the slight scent of a woman behind him, lime leaves, vanilla. Someone with wealth enough to buy the most recent perfumes from Paris, a Tabac Blond. Behind him, to the right, a man in an expensive suit, that has been tailored for him. This one moves in a precise and controlled manner, close to silent, he is only given away by the slightest reflection from blood red enamel on his gold cufflinks. At the edge of his perception, some slight discomfort, a sense something is not correct. Hes positive there is another presence in the room, but its fuzzy, whenever he thinks he can place it, it moves, like air causing a bubble in a bag.
It is then with a slight horror, that he realises that he cannot hear any breathing in this room, save his own, that the cigarette in the hands of the dilettante is what is producing the slight smoke, rather than his breath. Although one eye is bruised and swollen, the other works well enough to draw his attention to the fact that there seems to be no pulse on the man in front of him. He needs to enrage him to be certain however.“I don’t believe we’ve been introduced, I’m Salvo.” He has a suspicion that he has a broken jaw from the punch earlier, confirmed when his speech is slurred.
“I don’t give a fuck what your name is.” The lout that punched him spits out.
“I think you meant to say ‘we don’t give a fuck’, there are six of you here.” Salvo savours a minor victory at the look of surprise across the face of the lout.
“Interesting, he spotted you Mitnick. It would seem there is more to this kine’s success as a detective than just his mind.” The voice is measured, fitting the suit wearer perfectly, with a voice clearly used to being in command. Only the faintest trace of a German accent or phrasing, linking the money and the connection Salvo suspects someone from one of the brewing families.
“I concur” the woman with the Tabac scent begins to speak, something in the catch of her voice gives him pause. It has the similar kink to the hooded woman’s speech. Something gives him pause, a feeling of something being broken, when she talks. “He is a danger to us, Gawain estimates that in less than a month he has managed to piece together the evidence of seven masquerade breaches, linked our business interests across the city and potentially identified seven havens.”
“He is also useful, Greenfield bring him into our Camarilla.” The judgement is made with a swift resolution. Salvo can barely process this new information before another punch fells him.
“I’m merely saying, Lemp did not actually say you had to embrace him.” Salvo feigns sleep, the words of the lawyer washing over him. For the first time in two years his hip no longer feels pain, he can feel the damage to his jaw and face has also been resolved. His mouth has a coppery taste, almost like blood, but not the taste of his own. “We could settle our debate on the blood, and still satisfy his command.” Salvo can feel his arms tied to the wall, his legs bound.
From the pressing against his temples, the slow pounding incessant rythmn of a marching band, Salvo can tell a tornado is beginning outside. “Good thinking, I’ll be damned if my first childe is a fucking seamus.” He reaches over and slaps Salvo awake. Opening his eyes, Salvo takes in a scene of horror, the louche is biting the arm of a naked woman, drugged or otherwise insensible, draped across a chaise-longue.
The lawyer and the lout seem to be draining goblets of a ruby substance. Salvo knows instinctively that it is not wine, but his mind recoils at the realisation its blood. To one side they have a bowl, with strange etchings upon it. The lawyer continues, “I acquired this from our emaciated associate. It should be suitable, along with these, “ he moves three vials containing dark substances through his fingers. “And these we acquired from ‘willing’ donors.” With an evil look, they move over towards him, a sudden movement from the lawyer cuts across his throat, as he begins to bleed out, the last thing Salvo hears is “waste not, want not” as they lap at his blood.
some time later
The emaciated fussy little man in spectacles stands up from him, “He is one of us, his blood is strong but I cannot tell from which of Caine’s line he has come from. However, were it not for the ritual and his pale aura, it would be impossible to tell this by looking at him.” Salvo feels his teeth with his tongue, realising that they have grown fang-like. With an obsequies bow of his head, the fusspot leaves the chamber. Salvo rolls over, realising he remains bound.“He awakes. He is a monstrosity an abomination and must be destroyed.”
“Gawain, I will hear none of this. He has been foully abused by our kind. I am minded to spare him, I do not believe in your obsession with childish fables about Ragnorak or the end times. Begone from this chamber.” The same voice from the first cell, the one in control speaks out. “Lady Carlinda, you have spoken forcefully on behalf of this one. We must ensure that he is versed in the
“My daughter Caitlin has asked to rescue her Fieramosca. She has been faithful to our sect and I am minded to grant this to her.” Salvo can see the woman from the alleyway gestured to by the woman wearing Tabac.
“Granted. Ensure he knows I did not intend for this to be his fate. I will take the appropriate steps to ensure those that did this are punished.” The well-dressed man leaves the room along with Carlinda. The woman from the alleyway moves over to Salvo.
“So my gallant knight, how are you.”
“Getting slightly annoyed by being bound, beaten and drenched in water. But answer me something, you were never at risk in the alleyway were you?”
“No, and that will be your first lesson, always know who is the predator and who the prey. Although I can see your working that out for yourself young kindred.” She moves to untie him.
“Why not just call us what we are, Vampires, monsters.”
“Kindred is an easier lie to console ourselves with. Come now, you will need to feed. “ They head out together into the night.