Gerald had not seen Teague in such a state. He had seen the troubleshooter beat on men before. In fact, the first time he had met Teague, his coworker had given the bruiser quite a beating.
Gerald was standing in the hallway of a dockside warehouse, on the south west side of their city. He had just come from the dock after shoving off Teague’s own Mother in a skiff that she seemed quite capable of piloting.
He had gone to the century old wooden dock that butted up against the building, with Teague’s mother after setting her free from a locked room on the third floor. This feat had been made possible after one of Vittorio’s own men had given them her location; and tossed the key to her locked chamber at Gerald’s feet. That being accomplished; the plain Mediterranean man then beat a hasty retreat.
He watched the big man as Fitz held closed, the heavy oak door against half a dozen or more men. Gerald knew that his friend was strong: he had seen examples of it over the several years he had worked with the big man, but instances like this really stood out.
He could see the big man sweating and straining with the effort it took to accomplish this. Before Gerald had liberated the Mrs., he recalled that Fitz had speculated, there were not more than seven or eight men to the other side of the thick door.
Gerald was accustomed to following the lead of both of the other men; even though he had actually worked for Mr. Penrose, longer than either of the two of them. So; he waited, and very shortly, he was rewarded with a minimal plan / strategy from Teague.
The troubleshooter had made some space between the three of them and told his companions, “Fitz is going to let them fellows out, and we’re going to take care of them.”
Both of the other enterprise men nodded in understanding, and or agreement. As the big man hopped back from the door; making sure to get far enough away so that the opening door wouldn’t strike him, Teague said forcefully “Vittorio is mine!”
The mention of the Italian enforcers name brought a chill to Gerald; he actually shivered. It was bad enough what that monster had done to him with that deadly, beautiful razor: but kicking him in the belly as Gerald lay bleeding to death on the floor, was a bit much.
When Teague had been sharing his impromptu strategy, Gerald had slipped a cosh from his back pocket and gripped it tightly in his right hand. It was basically a heavy leather tube filled with lead shot. Normally the bruiser relished using his hands; but he knew that the Italians were desperate and were likely going to be armed as well.
As the big man hopped nimbly back from the oak door he had just released; Gerald saw that Fitz had pulled his own bludgeon to be brought into use against the Italians. The big man favored a trench club that had seen service in the Great War. It was approximately forty centimeters in length with the body of a Mills’ bomb mounted as the head of the club. The medium sized club had worked best within the confined spaces typical of trench warfare.
And for Teague; the troubleshooter was wearing the heavy canvas trousers and coat; and had that mismatched pair of gloves. A heavy leather one for his left hand, and a flexible metal filet glove on his right.
The three enterprise men moved slightly back as the door near flew off its’ hinges, and men started rushing into the hallway with them.
Fitz had speculated that there were no more than eight men in the room. He was off again by half.
Gerald caught a glimpse of the well dressed leader of this rebellious group of Italians; and he knew that Teague had spotted him as well, in the interior of the room past the men rushing out.
The big bruiser knew this to be true because Teague was galvanized into more ferocious action.
Gerald had no way of knowing; but this was the second time in his life that Teague had lost “control” of himself. The only other time than this had been in the chalky trenches of the Somme. His nation had awarded the troubleshooter the Victoria Cross for his actions there; but Teague was more shamed than proud of what he had done.
The troubleshooter surged forward, gracefully slipping by several men; and passed two men nearest the door, striking them down as he did so. Afterwards, the two men would not have been able to tell you what happened. They woke up sometime later with terrible headaches. One of the men had been raised on a farm; and recalled an incident in his teens when he had been kicked in the head by a mule: this was worse.
Once the troubleshooter made it past those two men, he went through the oaken door into the room, and slammed the door shut behind him. Gerald could hear a heavy bolt being engaged on the other side of the portal, even through the thick door and with the overall noise of near a dozen men on his side of the door.
There were nine men upright, in the hallway with the two enterprise men. None of the Italians were as big as Fitz; thankfully, but not many men were. Two of their opponents were of a size with Gerald who was no small man; but the rest of them were nearer to what would be considered “average” in size and weight.
What happened next did not take as long as one would expect. Outside of a bare knuckle boxing match; most “fights” are over surprisingly quickly. Even a melee such as took place in that crowded hallway; took less time than a person would assume. An unbiased observer would have certainly put their money on the larger group of men. The Italians outnumbered their enterprise opponents by a little more than four to one. They were rough sorts who were armed with a variety of knives and bludgeons. One of the larger ones had a length of heavy chain: this didn’t serve him well as he had thought in the melee, because all he could really do with it was to wrap it about his rough hands and punch with it, because most of the bodies in the hallway were on his side.
The catalogue of injuries from the melee were extensive; but no one on either side lost their life. No one in the hallway at least. Of the two enterprise men, Gerald got the worst of it. He had bruises, cuts, and several broken toes on his left foot from one of the Italians who had heavy boots on, instead of the brogans that most of the men in the hall habitually wore.
Another side effect of Gerald’s encounter with the Pixie was that his foot was good as new in two days, instead of the four to six weeks it would normally take for such injuries to heal.
Gerald dealt with three of the men who came into the hallway after them. He was busy with them and was not able to offer any assistance to the big man. Not that Fitz really needed it. The one thing that stood out to Gerald; during the melee, was when Fitz literally picked up one of the men and threw him into another of the Italians in the fray. Like a rather unwieldy skittle in a game of ten pins.
As it often happens; once violence begins, some are simply not up to it. Less than a minute into the melee, two of the Italians decided they had better things to do and escaped down the hall and out the back of the warehouse. So really the two enterprise men dealt with seven, not eleven opponents.
Once the last of the Mediterranean men were down and out of the fight; the two enterprise men took several moments to collect themselves and take stock of their injuries.
Gerald hobbled over to the heavy oak door where Fitz was leaning and catching his breath.
“Ouch!”, the big bruiser said as he limped over. He pointed at one of the larger, figures groaning on the floor and said, “I think that one busted my foot.”
The bruiser continued with, “I’d kick him; but,” he pointed down to his injured extremity and said with a grimace; “busted foot!.”
Fitz surveyed the downed Italians and was satisfied to see that none of them were moving much. The two that Teague had struck down were unmoving, and not moaning or groaning like several of the others; but he could see the rise and fall of their chests, so he knew they would likely live. That was good in his mind. He could be quite fierce, but he generally took no pleasure in causing pain or injury; even if the other party was doing their best to hurt him.
The big man put up his club and tried the door. It was still locked; bolted from the other side in all likelihood.
Fitz was not surprised that the door was closed securely. He had heard a heavy bolt thud home on the other side, when Teague had gone through at the beginning of the melee.
He knew the troubleshooter was in there facing off against Vittorio. That was not a prospect that Fitz would have wanted to deal with. The big man thought he might have been able to handle the Italian; but he wasn’t so sure.
“Can you open it?” Gerald asked the big man. Fitz slowly nodded his head negatively. “I don’t think so Gerald.” The big man continued; “holding it closed was one thing, since it opens outward.” Gerald nodded slowly in agreement while he inspected the heavy oak door.
“But that makes it harder to force inward you see.”
The big bruiser nodded in agreement because it made sense; and he agreed with Fitz’s assessment.
Gerald had an idea after a quick inspection of the heavy portal, he pointed overhead and he spoke: “I saw a hammer and chisel upstairs when I was helping the Mrs. escape.”
The bruiser pointed at the hinges at the side of the door and said, “I reckon we can use them to pop those hinge pins out, then the door should come right open.”
“That’s a grand idea Gerald;” the big man told him. “Why don’t you run up and fetch them?” Fitz was doing a good job hiding the surprise he felt at the other man’s idea. It was a good idea after all; not something that had come to Fitz right off. It had only been a day since the miracle with the Pixie in Ottimo Cibo; but the big man could tell that Gerald was different. The bruiser was much more insightful than he had been since Fitz had known him.
Gerald pointed down to his injured extremity and said, “busted foot.”
“That’s right,” Fitz said. So he asked, “and where were they?”
Gerald told him, “you can’t miss em: they’re on a table outside the room on the third floor, where they were keeping the Mrs. I left the door open.”
Both men were deliberately not speaking out loud what they were thinking, or maybe dreading.
Teague should have already been out of that room. Both big enterprise men knew firsthand what the troubleshooter could do in a scrape.
Fitz thought to himself that if the Italian had done for Teague: well then, that devil was not leaving this warehouse.
Before either man could say or do anything else; they were interrupted by the scraping of the heavy bolt on the other side of the oaken door.
Both me took a few quick steps apart so that they could come at the Italian from more than one direction; and they waited…
The door opened slowly, and they saw him. Teague stood unsteady in the doorway.
Gerald shivered at the sight of his friend. Teague was bloody. The heavy canvas trousers and coat were drenched in red. There was blood all over Teague’s face and head.
Everyone always says that head wounds bleed a lot. They say it; because head wounds bleed a lot!
Afterward, Teague ended up with more than a hundred stitches, and bore scars on his scalp and face for the rest of his life.
Before anyone could think of anything to ask or say, Teague collapsed forward. The troubleshooter was a large man; sixteen stone of muscle and bone, but Fitz was larger still. The big man caught Teague as the other man fell; and he scooped him up like a fireman carries a rescue. The big man didn’t falter or make a sound. He simply adjusted his friend across his shoulders and said, “let’s get out of this place Gerald.”
The bruiser nodded energetically and said, “you don’t have to tell me twice!”
Gerald had a good view of the interior of the room before he followed the other two enterprise men out of the hallway and then the building.
The bruiser later recalled thinking what a state the room was in: overturned furniture was in plain view. He also got a glimpse of Vittorio on the floor. He didn’t think much of it at the time; but it later occurred to him that the well dressed “inert” form on the ground looked different. If he had to put a word to it; he would have chosen the word -Lumpy-.
Gerald had to hustle to keep up with the big man. His injured foot hampered his movement, but he was happy to be away from that place.
Their original plan had been to leave the warehouse via the skiff they had arrived in; but that had changed when Gerald had sent off Teague’s mother in that same vessel.
So now they simply went out the front of the building. Gerald noticed that the fog that Miss Tenkha had surely sent; only seemed to cover the rear of the warehouse. Out in the front of the building, it was quite sunny.
Fitz was carrying their unconscious colleague across his broad shoulders with no visible effort. Gerald could see that Teague was bleeding onto the big man’s shoulders and back.
Once his eyes adjusted to the outside light; the first thing that Gerald noticed was a beautiful motor coach parked close to the large front door of the warehouse. Since he figured that the vehicle belonged to the Italian enforcer, and that its’ owner was not going to be needing it any longer, he rushed to it and was pleasantly surprised to find that the keys were inside.
After Fitz had deposited the bloody troubleshooter in the back seat, the two enterprise men got into the beautiful motor coach and drove off in a hurry.