It’s often said of men that they look peaceful only in their sleep; when they dream of things yet to come. A man who dreams of nightmares is a man tormented by demons, and haunted by his past. If you meet a man like this, then run, for he is a monster burdened by the weight of his own sins which pains him even in his sleep.
If this old wive’s tale is to be taken as an empirical fact, then Mickey Donahue was the most innocent, blameless, and pure-hearted man that had ever lived.
Sleeping soundly while surrounded by bottle after bottle with his fly wide open, Mickey had hardly moved a muscle or even so much as twitched in the last eight hours. His face was unblemished and content, and he even had a big ol’ grin on his face, one wider than the Brooklyn Bridge. God only knew what he was dreaming about (or perhaps the devil), but he’d showed no sign of stirring or doing fuck-all of anything since he’d collapsed into a heap following his drunken, poppy-induced rage. Many considered this to be a good thing, and many had also considered the ramifications of what were to happen to them were they still around when he woke up. As a result, the temporary hideout they’d been using (a shitty back-alley bar with no booze and a broken dart board) was empty save for Mickey and one dusty old telephone. All was quiet, leaving his sleep undisturbed.
Then the phone rang.
Mickey fell off his barstool and onto his ass. He rubbed the back of his head where he’d hit a table leg.
He got up, still pretty hung-over, and stormed over to the phone with half a mind to rip it out of the goddamn wall. Instead, he settled for “angrily picking up the receiver”, which somehow wasn’t as cathartic.
“What the fuck do you want?!” he yelled into the mouthpiece.
Mickey was surprised to hear the voice of his second-in-command on the line. A gruff voice, belonging to one of the Bronco’s oldest and loyalest. Bit on the dull side, but sometimes that could be a desirable quality in henchmen. Just not this time.
“Boss, it’s Lubbo. The bombs are all set and ready to go. I was wondering what you wanted us to do with ‘em next.”
“Lubbo, you… dumbass!” Mickey yelled. “How many times do I have to fucking tell you?! Scry me for important business! Scry! Don’t use the fucking telephone! The cops can fucking trace this shit!”
“Relax Mickey, our boys are handling it,” he said dismissively. “Besides, this is easier. We don’t need as much goat blood.”
“For the love of…” Mickey pinched his brow. “I keep telling you, you don’t have to use goat blood! Any blood will do! Crack open a fucking pigeon for all I care! Do I have to tell you goons how to do fucking everything?”
“Yeah yeah, whatever. Don’t sweat it so much, it’s not that big a deal.” Mickey made a mental note to kill Lubbo later. “Listen, it’s all green on our end. We’re ready to set these things to blow whenever you are, we’re just waiting for your go-to.”
“Well whoop-dee fucking doo, good for you,” Mickey said sarcastically. “Every breath you’ve taken since leaving your mother’s dry, spit-encrusted vagina has now been justified. I’ll be there soon. Try not to fall and kill yourself on a pile of dicks until then, you fucking idiot.”
Mickey slammed the receiver back onto the rack, still pissed off.
“I am surrounded by morons…”
Briefly he wondered where the homunculus went. He’d been looking around for her and couldn’t find her, and was beginning to wonder if she’d gone on another one of the midnight smoke breaks he so generously allowed her. Fucking bitch… give them an inch and they take a mile.
“Hey! Where the hell did you go?!” he said, willing her to come to him. The homunculus, who’d been sleeping in the other room, awoke with a gasp, tripping and crawling on her hands and knees to get to him as quickly as possible. He scowled. “The fuck do you think you’re doing?! You’re supposed to be protecting me, you worthless waste of space! Or is that too fucking complicated for you to understand?”
He landed a kick in her stomach which sent her sprawling, and then he kicked her some more while she was prone, lying on the ground and coughing up small flecks of blood with each kick. She never fucking learned.
Finally, he got tired of her.
“Get up,” he ordered. “We got business to take care of. You finish with those clowns in the back yet?”
Still coughing, she hesitated, looked away, and then shook her head. Mickey growled.
You want something done right, you do it your fucking self…
Angrily, Mickey stormed into the back room of the bar. Well, this was as good a way as any to release some of that pent up aggression his therapist always said was so bad for him. Then again, what did he know? That bozo couldn’t tell a priest from a pedophile. As far as Mickey was concerned, that was all he needed to know about the late Dr. Fitzgerald.
The door slammed open, and immediately everyone tied up in the dimly-lit back room started making noise; crying, yelling, protesting and whining. Mickey smiled calmly like a proper showman should.
“My dear captive audience, I know we’re all tired here, but I would appreciate it ever so much if you could all be so kind as to please shut the fuck up?!”
Everybody quickly became very quiet. Mickey stepped forward.
“Much better. Now then,” he said, surveying his hostages. “Ladies, germs. Thank you for your time. My name is Mickey Donahue, and I will be your host for the evening. Now, before we begin, would any of you like to know why it is you’re here?”
Before anyone could offer a response, Mickey replied. “It’s because this city is a diseased shithole. Rotten to the core. Wanna know why? I know why. It’s because of you!” Mickey pointed at a woman holding on to a picture of her husband. “Your friends and your families! Your husbands, your wives, and your children! All of them work for New York’s Faggoty Fucking Five. They’re all a part of the problem! Which means… you are a part of the problem.”
A seven year old child tied up with his mother began to cry, wailing uncontrollably. Mickey smiled. Now they were listening. He reached down and ruffled the little boy’s hair, quieting his incessant bawling.
“But don’t worry. It’s gonna be okay. You can still be part of the solution. What’s your name, kid?”
The boy sniffled. “F-Franz.”
“Franz, huh? Right now, as we speak, your pappy is doing me a little favor. I expect it’s going to be a while before you get to see each other again, but worry not. I promise you’ll be reunited soon. In the meantime, what you can do for me is this. You can sit here. You can wait. You can all be good little fucking hostages and do what I say, and it’ll all be over before you know it. As a matter of fact, you’ve already helped me so much just by being here that there’s there’s only one more thing you need to do for me before you’re free to go.”
He picked up a canister of gasoline, and immediately the more perceptive captives began screaming. Mickey sighed, humming along with the tune as he tossed the canister to the homunculus to douse the hostages with. Now these were the kind of screams he liked. These were screams with true passion behind them, the kind you could only muster when you were fighting for your life. It was like listening to music played by an artist. A performer just plays music for the money, but an artist… an artist plays music because it’s what he loves to do. Because he’d die without it. Screams with real life put into it, real soul… those screams were sweet harmony. It made him giggle in delight.
Finally he finished, shaking the gasoline vigorously so everyone got a nice, even coating. You couldn’t call it a barbecue if you didn’t get that nice, even golden-brown coating. He lit a match. Immediately the wives and a few of the men started blubbering, unable to articulate to him just how much they didn’t want to die. He sneered, half-laughing and half-disgusted.
“Don’t be so fucking pathetic. This is absolution for your sins, you fucking worthless cowards who were too afraid to face the truth! With your sacrifice, you’ll be helping make a better New York. Run by me. And not by those snide fucking aristocrats. It’s not gonna be like it was, with people left and right always telling you what to do like they think they fucking own you. You and me? We’re gonna bring the land of the free back to New York. Viva la America, baby!”
Like a conductor waving his baton, Mickey dropped the lit match in ceremonial procession, immediately setting the entire group ablaze, men, women, and children alike. Their screams as they vainly fought to preserve what was left of their quickly dwindling lives… the music they made was fantastic. Full of passion, comedy, and pathos. In death, they were all his artists. Crispy, barbecue-scented artists.
Mickey laughed uncontrollably. The homunculus just looked away.
“Hey, Mickey!” Lubbo said in greeting. “See, it’s just like I said. We got it all ready to go.”
“You brought our dead men too?”
Lubbo nodded, and directed Mickey to the ten men who were being forced to stand in front of the abandoned warehouse’s garage door. All of them were men of the five families turned turncoat for Mickey. They were each holding a piece of cardboard with their names on them, lined up side-to-side like like a police lineup, and had been standing like that for a good four hours without moving. Every time they’d tried, they’d been kicked and beaten back into a perfect procession. Many of them were back-pain sufferers, and looked ready to give in to cramps or just plain exhaustion. Mickey nodded in approval.
“Alright Lubbo, you’re good to go.” He patted his erstwhile subordinate on the back. “Oh, and one more thing.”
Quickly reaching for Lubbo’s gun, Mickey yanked it out of his belt loop and shot Lubbo in the face, splattering the lineup with pieces of his cerebellum and medulla oblongata.
“Fucking prick…” Mickey murmured. “When I say ‘scry’, you scry.” He turned to the ten dead men and his remaining underlings, who were understandably terrified by this sudden outburst of meaningless violence (meaningless to them anyway). “The fuck are you looking at? Did anyone tell you you could fucking stop?”
The men had long ago learned their supposed leader was a violent sociopath to top all other violent sociopaths, but one becomes willing to tolerate certain character flaws if it’s for a greater good. Now, however, was one of the moments where they began to wonder if they’d live to see that greater good serving under Mickey. Revenge was great and all, but so was breathing.
Mickey noticed their resistance, and willed the homunculus into action. The men slowly started to back off and resume their duties posthaste as the homunculus walked towards them, emotionless and with trench-knives bared. None of them wanted to serve under Mickey anymore, but none of them had a choice anymore either. As long as he had that thing working for him, there was no way they could win. It was better to suffer the abuse as it came than it was to give him a reason to inflict it.
Satisfied that his lackeys had been reminded of the proper pecking order, Mickey called off the homunculus and turned his attention to their ten little moles. Three Pescis, two Sartinis, one Allesandri, two Vitalis, and two Capellos, all lined up in neat order. He smiled. They didn’t.
“Relax, boys. I’m not gonna hurt ya.”
He didn’t expect them to speak. That wasn’t their place here. They’d shut up, listen, and entertain him, because that was-
“I’m sure that’s what you told Lubbo, too.” An unexpected chill froze the air as everyone, even Mickey (especially Mickey), stopped to process the idea that someone had just interrupted Mickey.
Mickey searched for the offender, his gaze petrifying like an old gorgon’s. He needed to know who this message was to go out too, specifically. Surprise surprise when he found out it was a Pesci.
“You…” he uttered coldly. “You’re that limp-dick fart’s son, aren’t you?”
“Son- in-law,” the thirty year old half-Italian spat. “Byron Marcucci is my wife’s father.”
“Yeah. Just thought you should know who you’re fucking with-”
Mickey kicked him in the groin with the toe of his steel- tipped boots, savoring the satisfying crunch as he mercilessly broke the Pesci’s balls. The man doubled over in pain, breathless and grasping at his swollen testicles. Mickey picked him up by his hair, and kneed him in the gut a few more times. Just to make sure he was listening.
“Woops. Guess your old man isn’t gonna get to be a grandpa.”
The Pesci smiled weakly. “Joke’s on you, asshole. He hates my guts. You’re doing him a fucking favor.”
Still defiant, he spat blood on Mickey’s shoes. Mickey scowled. Spreading his index finger and his middle finger apart, he jammed both digits into the Pesci’s eye sockets, digging around in the fat and the gristle while Eyeless Pete screamed. He tried shoving them in all the way. He wanted to touch his brain. Disheartened when he couldn’t get quite that deep, he pulled out, leaving his victim panting and moaning on the floor. Screaming could take a lot out of a guy.
He dry-heaved, panting. “Do what you want to me… I’m not gonna be your bitch, Mickey.”
But apparently not enough. Now, this was the point where most men would just give up, and call it a lost cause. Getting in the final word wasn’t worth this much effort. But Mickey wasn’t most men. And he was not going to let this asshole have the last laugh. Not on his big day.
“No, you’re not gonna be my bitch,” he said, stomping on the balls he’d already crushed once. “Your wife is. And believe me, I am definitely going to do what I want to her, unless you do exactly what I fucking say, you piece of shit. I own you, just like I own her. Now you’re gonna do what I fucking tell you to, or I’m gonna make sure an open casket funeral is the last thing they’ll be giving you. Both of you.”
One of Mickey’s subordinates came around with a bag of black pills. The lanky, mouselike man handed one to each mole before disinterestedly moving on to the next, never once making eye contact. The lackey looked to Mickey for approval once it was done. Mickey nodded. He looked to the other turncoats.
“That goes for all of you! I have your loved ones! They’re hidden safely away in one of our temp hideouts right now, but on my command they all go up in smoke! So you do what I fucking say, eat those fucking pills, and climb into those fucking tanks, and maybe, maybe I’ll let them go. But if you make a move, make a mistake, waste one more minute of my goddamn time, I will shove you so far up another man’s ass that you can get reacquainted with the Sunday special. Capisce, you dago fucks? Now, get the fuck in there!”
Hurriedly, each of the men did as they were told, abandoning their signs and scrambling into their tanks to be sealed in. The one without eyes or testicles had to try a few times because he kept bumping into things, but even he found his way in soon enough. Mickey passed by each one, watching as they got sealed in behind a plate of sheet metal. The last one, a fat Sartini, asked him a simple question.
“If I do this, my son Franz… he will be safe, ja? Even if I do not live to see it, at least let my son have a bright future, I beg of you!”
Mickey smiled. “Sure thing.”
The door to the empty tank was sealed shut, blocking out and protecting him from the outside world, and along with it, everything the man did not know.