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Dec 02, 2020

Sad

A jazz trumpeter is playing in the background of a smoky bar just outside the city. The tunes are low and hushed so as not to take away from the conversations happening around them.


The bartender is filling a wine glass with a daiquiri for a woman wearing a slender violet dress. Her skin a beautiful bronze as she picks it up and saunters over to a table. Where a young man nurses a gin and tonic.


"Grocer baby, when are we going to hit the club."


"In a minute, love. I'm just waiting to tell sis the big news."


"Can't that wait, we have so much celebrating to do and your sis is such a bore."


"C'mon now Dauphne, she ain't so bad."


"All she cares about is numbers. That's all she does, all day, all night in that backroom of hers. She never socializes. For Christ sake she's the goddamn owner of the bar. Only reason any of her workers put up with her is because she pays well."


"Will you keep it down, dear." Grocer insisted casting a weary eye around. No one was supposed to know how well they were doing.


"What's the matta' hun? You afraid someone's gonna catch an ear, here? You own this bar too you know. Now lets go." She gently tugged at his elbow.


Just as he was about to give in as he always did. He suddenly noticed his sis walking down the hallway with a smile upon her face as she saw Grocer and Dauph.


"So? Is it done?" She asked with withheld excitement. She was also known as Sweet Jenny by those close to her.


"Yes, yes, yes and yes." He said happily with Dauphne also smiling along with them. "I can't believe it Jenny we can finally do it."


"Canada..." Jenny spoke the word with mysticism for she had only an imagined vision of this paradise in her mind.


"Good now let's drink to this happy occasion. Ladies." Passing a glass of Chardonnay to his sister that he had saved for her.


"To New Lives and New Beginnings."


"Cheers, dear."


"Cheers."


The clink of their glasses echoed for a moment in that smoky bar just as three men walked in wearing heavy winter coats. Outside a storm raged and they were all drenched.


But the front man was large and bulky with a black mask covering his face. Immediately, the doorman backed away from the men. They were the 'true' owners of the bar called Two Red Roses. Stolen cash was stored here by the Antoli family and these men. Well they were their muscle.


Grocer had his back to the door, but could tell something was up as Jen's face flushed away all the color leaving her paler than usual. Dauphne turned the door and covered her mouth. She was beginning to quake.


Grocer's own stomach fell to the pit as he realized without even knowing what was happening.


"Well Sweety, it's a nice little gathering you have going here. Mind if we join." Asked the masked man. He tipped his hat to Dauph who gave him a half smile in return, still extremely nervous.


"Sure, Foley take a seat." Jenny said as she regained her composure. Other patrons in the bar began to empty out. The bartender made to do the same, but...


"Hold it bucko, my two friends here would like your finest whiskey. Afterwards, you can scram."


The bartender nodded timidly and did as he was told.


"Now Jenny, I've been hearing tall tales. That you've been trimming a bit of our earnings into your own pocket. That can't possibly be true."


"I... I don't know what your talking about, Foley. Antoli's money is safe and sound in the back were I keep all of your cash."


"Is that right?" He turned over to Dauphne. "You've never liked Jenny, do you think she's telling the truth, Missus Grocer?"


Dauph turned to her husband and back at Jen.


"Yah she's being honest, Sir."


"Well would you look at that. They finally agree on something? Who'd a thunk. But it's funny, cause if our money was in the back." He snapped his fingers and two men came in carrying a safe.


"Nothing but this back there, boss."


They dropped it heavily on the table shaking the quaint drinks onto the floor. With the dial facing Jenny's way.


"Now Grocer, the honor is now yours." Foley spoke in a low tone. "When we open up this safe. Will we find the money or will we find out that both your wife and sister have been lying to us."


Grocer opened his mouth, but no words came through. He wanted to tell the truth, but he couldn't. He was afraid of what would happened to either his sister or his wife.


Foley took in a sharp breadth and look down for a moment then met his gaze with Grocer again.


"Well time's up." He took out his pistol and shot Dauphne in the head. She jolted backwards and fell from her chair. Jen's scream echoed through the empty bar, no longer filled with smoke or jazz. Just blood and the caustic stench of gunfire.


"Let's try this again, Grocer." Who was now on his knees cradling his dead wife.


"Please stop, Foley." He said through tears as he rocked back and forth with Dauphne in his hands. Her body limp and lifeless.


"Not the answer I was looking for, Jenny open this safe."


Tears were flowing down her face ruining her makeup as she turned the dials slowly. She looked over to Grocer and their eyes met. She mouthed, I'm sorry. She had asked him to partake in this folly to begin with, but he didn't say no and he let her do it anyway.


Now they were facing the consequences of messing with the gangs.


The safe opened and their was nothing but some of her jewellery.


"This looks empty to me, how 'bout to you boys."


"Yah boss, pretty empty."


"That's a shame." Foley without mincing anymore words turned and shot Jenny.


Grocer closed his eyes to the world and wouldn't open them until a few hours later after his sobbing stopped. Around him the gang emptied out all the valuables in the bar and ransacked the place before leaving. But he took no heed to that.


He had just lost everything. When he was supposed to have gotten everything he'd ever wanted.


***


A young boy wearing a flat cap and a vest ran up to Foley place. And rang him down.

"There's been a shooting at Elm's street at Two Red Roses. Sweet Jenny's place." The child insisted that he take a look.


Foley who nodded and walked with the young boy back the way he came. A car met up with them on the street and he helped the boy onto the chair while riding aside the cab with a Tommy Gun in hand.


Foley was a war vet who had half his face blown off. A mine blew up half his company during Market Garden. He wore a mask ever since returning to civilian life. It was a much a part of who he was as his affiliation with the Antoli family.


"Do you know who did it boy?"


"Nah sir Foley, just that it doesn't look good. I think there be dead people in that bar. A lotta of them empty out about an hour or two ago?"


"Good job, kid." He handed him a dollar and let him on his way as they arrived a the Rose Bar. He walked through the door and saw young Grocer nursing the body of his wife Dauph. And beyond Sweet Jenny lay in a bloody mess.


"God, what happened here Grocer."


He turned to him - red eyed and defeated. When anger suddenly replaced his anguish.


"Hadn't you had enough, Foley."


"What are you talking about?"


"What am I talking about, you just blew the brains out of my wife and sister. You fucking monster." He spat at Foley's feet.


"I think your a bit delusional sonny. Tell me who did this and I'll get em back."


"Antoli did this, he found out we were pulling from his grain. And sent you to do his dirty work, do you have like amnesia or something. Does that mask hide a fish brain brute or are you just here to torture me. I don't care if you kill me."


Angry now, after being insulted several times. The enforcer picked up scrawny Grocer by the nap of his neck tie and looked him in the eyes.


"I didn't kill your sis or your wife. They were good people. I might've if Antoli told me, but I don't think Antoli knows you were stealing from him. He will now, so I suggest you get out of here while you can."


"How I have nothing left. No savings, nothing. No sister. No wife. No home that is safe."


"You live with what life has given you my friend. Just be thankful your alive. Carry your love ones in your heart and maybe you'll find hope."


Taken aback, Grocer sniffled and asked.


"When'd you become a poet?"


"When you realize all of this is a farce."


Grocer laughed a bit at the insanity of it all. If he wasn't the killer than who was.

"Mind if I follow you to find out who really did this."


"Well for starters you can tell me who'd want your sister killed. How much money did you horde and how many of them came in."


"I thought it was Antoli, but now I'm guessing it might be someone De Angelos gang. They were helping me launder the ten thousand we'd saved. There were five including the fake Foley."


Suddenly, a halting screech was heard from outside the bar. Instinctively, he pushed Grocer aside as the door and windows were shot up from behind the darkness and rain of the storm outside. Tommy gun fire rattling away.


Instead of seeking cover. Foley stood his ground and returned fire as glass shatter from the bar behind him and table splintered from ricocheting bullets. He heard the sound of wounding a man or two, but there must've been four or five shooters.

Foley miraculously was unscathed.


"Foley, you fucking bastard. The Don gave you roof over your head and shoes over your feet. He took you in and this is how you repay him. By stealing from Antoli."

Foley couldn't recognize the voice, but he was getting really tired for being blamed for shit he hadn't done.


"Grocer tell them you stole the money. Straighten my boys up." Grocer look up at him, then cowered back away. Knowing it would cost him his own life.


"Fucking coward..." He muttered under his breadth.


"Boys! I have nothing to do with this, I swear on my mother's grave."


His reply was even more gunfire. This time he ducked and grabbed Grocer's hand pulling him to the back exit.


"Where's your car Grocer?"


"Down past the alleyway."


They ran all the way to his car and he took the drivers seat. Gunning it down the road.

"Where are we going?"


"The only place to go. Antoli's men have gone mad and the only way we can sort this out is if we get the money."


"No, no, no we aren't going to hit Angelos. Are you crazy?"


"Well as far as how this night has been going I would say yes."


Angelos headquarters was by the docks. He knew if they were going to hold any sort amount of money it would be there.


Under the cover of the storm he handed a pistol to Grocer who held it limply as they came up to the gate. Foley peeked past the to look beyond. There were goons hanging about a fire can and a few watching from awnings of the warehouses.


"Grocer you stay here and provide cover fire. When I come rushing out you 'ere. And don't be afraid to pull that trigger. Just think of your wife and your sister as you gun 'em down. It'll put a fire under your belly."


He nodded, less assuredly than Foley would like. But you make do with what life throws your way as he had said before.


Grocer waited in the storm. His pristine suit drenched. His teeth chattering in the cold. When the gunfire began to ring. Rattling continued for what felt like eternity. When he heard his name being yelled out through the night.


"Grocer!"


He turned and look beyond the gates. At least ten men were chasing after Foley with pistols and automatic weapons. They fired at him. So reluctantly, the young man fired back. His first shot, rang out in the night as one of the pursuers dropped dead. This halted a few of them. Who took cover. The remainder continued the chase.


He continued to provide covering fire. Each flash he saw the face of his only family. Now lost to him. When within sight he could see Folly holding onto a bag of cash filled to the brim. He was bleeding all over it. The two of them hustled into the car and he put his foot down on the pedal as the glass shattered behind him from gunfire.


He had no time to think or do anything else but drive. After an hour of paranoia. He realized they had escaped. He turned back to Foley with a great grin that was quickly swept away.


The man was barely holding on to his life. Blood was everywhere.


"Good job, boyo." He said through bloody lips as he slowly slipped away.


Grocer didn't know what to say as he looked back at him


He never knew what to say.


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