Fitz had never seen Teague so full of fury. It was completely understandable. He himself would have been quite wroth if someone had abducted his own dear mother.
The big man watched Teague as the enterprise trouble shooter paced restlessly back and forth, as though it was his intention to wear a hole in the expensive carpeting.
He noted that the pacing man was dressed in a manner, very unlike his normal attire. He was wearing heavy canvas pants and a jacket made of the same durable material. The jacket had a very high collar, actually made of leather. Teague was also wearing very sturdy boots. Fitz could see a thick leather glove sticking out of the left pocket of Teague’s jacket; and in the right pocket, what appeared to be a steel fillet glove like they used down at the docks while preparing the catch of the day.
Fitz had been sent out here by his employer: ostensibly to contain the primary trouble shooter, although to be perfectly honest; he was inclined to let Teague go after the Italian. Vittorio needed to be dealt with; and the furious trouble shooter was the one least likely to die, getting that job done.
And again; being perfectly honest; Fitz wasn’t entirely certain that he could do it even had he wanted. Fitz knew that he was stronger than Teague. In point of fact, he was fairly certain that he was stronger than anyone he had known since he was 17. When that fair had come into town, he had won a nice bit of prize money by out “stronging”, the Strong Man.
But there was more than strength to be considered when dealing with Teague. Fitz had only been bested once in a physical confrontation since he was nine years old; and Teague had been the man to do that.
But his employer had instructed him to make sure Teague didn’t get into any mischief out here; so that is what he would do, or at least attempt. Given the choice, the big man would rather face Teague than Mr. Penrose, any day.
The enterprise leader had set up a meeting with the head of the South side; and the five of them had gone in good faith to the finest hotel in the south side for that same meeting. Fitz had gone into the meeting room first with Burton. This man was steady and reliable; but was there mainly because he was a scrapper and of a size with Gerald and Teague.
Mr. Penrose and Teague came in next; with Gerald bringing up the rear and closing the door behind him. The meeting place was a small conference room; roughly eight by ten meters in measure, with a single table and pair of chairs near the center.
Right away Fitz was not happy with the room, because there were multiple doors on two of the other walls, and there were several large windows with elaborate wrought iron railings, basically a fancy fire escape.
And there were more Italians there than had been agreed upon. His employer had informed him that they would be meeting with five individuals; among them the head of the south side, but there were seven in attendance from the other organization.
Fitz was going to say something to his employer, but Penrose had looked about the room when he entered, and the only thing Fitz noted was that his employer’s right eyebrow rose slightly: but he proceeded to the table and sat opposite the head of the South Side.
Teague took up a standing position a step to the left and two steps back from where Penrose sat. Fitz could not help but notice how tense the trouble shooter was: this due to his concern for his missing mother, and desire to return her to the safety of her shoppe and home.
The enterprise leader bowed his head slightly and with a genuine smile he said, “it’s a pleasure to see you Sofia, it’s been a while.”
Fitz marveled at how his employer could smile and appear to be a kindly uncle figure: he marveled because the big man knew how utterly ruthless Penrose could be.
For her part, the head of the South Side seemed pleased to meet with his employer. She was a handsome woman of later middle years. Sofia De Luca, the widow of Signore Tomas De Luca still boasted a figure that could turn a man’s head.
She was dressed comfortably in long skirt and blouse, with a fine shawl: no doubt because of the unusual snowfall the previous day.
“It was my husband’s funeral. The last time I saw you Penrose;” Sofia said to his employer. Her voice was pleasantly breathy; Fitz could not help but notice. He saw his employer nod slightly in agreement.
The slight man leaned forward and said, “your nephew has been causing some problems in my part of town.”
Fitz did his best not to react when he heard this, because he had not known that Vittorio was related to the head of the South Side.
The big man saw that Teague’s face darkened a bit at the mention of the other man. Fitz noticed that Signora De Luca did not react at all when she heard this. The big man was used to his employer knowing things that surprised him; so her lack of reaction spoke to him about her composure.
The Signora laughingly said, “oh Penrose, what business is it of ours if some West Side tart convinces her man to come over to this side of the tracks?” Fitz heard a slight snort come from behind him and darted a glance back towards Gerald. He noted that the big bruiser looked annoyed.
Penrose still had that smile on his face and responded, “well Sofia, normally I would agree with you. Far be it from me to interfere in some mundane domestic matter: but.” The enterprise leader’s face turned neutral and he waited a moment. He continued with, “he was exerting undue influence over the lady, and this caused her gentleman to come over against his will.”
To her credit, the Signora still had a lovely smile on her face. Most people found his employer to be a bit unnerving, but the South Side Leader gave no evidence that she was engaged in anything but a pleasant conversation between two peers. She asked a one word question, “And?”
The enterprise leader responded, “and again normally it would not concern me, but the gentleman is a shop owner and pays a weekly tribute to my enterprise.” The Signora nodded her head slightly, and in that breathy voice, stated “it was my understanding that the person in question was at most an employee, and at least; a form of servant.”
“That’s not the case I’m afraid,” the slight enterprise leader informed her.
It was at that point that Teague had apparently had enough. He spoke forcefully and said, “Signora, you need to tell me where he is.”
The leader of the South Side gave a look to the enterprise trouble shooter. The look was dismissive; it conveyed her superiority over the crass thug who dared to speak to her.
Her reply was, “young man, I need do no such thing.”
What happened next did not happen in the blink of an eye, but it certainly didn’t take much longer.
Fitz saw Teague ball up both fists and the troubled, troubleshooter took a step to his left and a step forward. His intent was clear. One of the Italians quickly intercepted Teague.
When Fitz thought on it later; or if he were to talk about what happened next, he would have to say that Teague smote that man. He didn’t merely slug, punch, or batter the Italian. It was old Testament like.
Given the state that Teague was in; and the fact that Fitz, Gerald, and Burton were there, normally the big man would have placed money on them handling the opposing men.
That is of course if the Italians had attended the meeting in good faith.
What happened next, happened nearly as quickly. Even though they were supposed to be unarmed; several of the Italians produced pistols, and one of them a nasty sawed off coach gun that he aimed at Penrose.
Fitz even saw several more men appear on the fire escape, also bearing weapons.
The big man saw the room in its’ entirety. He saw his men; with the exception of Gerald, since the bruiser was behind him. He saw the Italians; all eight of them brandishing some type of firearm. And he saw the Signora, seemingly unconcerned that there was about to be great violence committed in her presence.
Then his employer spoke. The enterprise leader did not yell, or scream; indeed the volume of his voice was only slightly more than was normal for him. “Jowan Teague!” Penrose said, “stand down!”
Everyone halted when Mr. Penrose spoke so forcefully. His own companions, as well as the Italians.
The big man had the slight pleasure of noticing that the leader of the South Side visibly flinched.
Teague stood frozen, with his fists clenched so tightly that they were white; and said, “but sir, my mother!”
Penrose spoke again; “I need you to step outside while I continue this meeting as planned.”
Everyone in the room was tense; but no one was moving or saying anything.
Teague was near quivering with fury and said, ““but sir, my mother!”
In a normal tone of voice, the enterprise leader said; “don’t make me ask again son.”
The troubleshooter took a moment, then visibly calmed himself. He looked at the woman sitting across from his employer for a moment, then turned and left the conference room.
Penrose turned to Fitz after Teague had made his exit and told him; “Branok, I need you to go out and contain him.” Fitz said, “sir?”
The enterprise leader responded, “I don’t want him getting to any mischief out there.”
“As you say Mr. Penrose;” and the big man left the meeting.