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It was early fall and the leaves of autumn littered the sidewalks of New York City. People bustled from one place to another in a immense stretch of crowds. This particular morning held a cold bitter wind that settled upon the city like a blanket. The warmth of the sun remained scarce as the trees in the city contained a lone barren look without their leaves. From Wall St. to the streets of Harlem everything was just a buzz of activity. The sound of honking cars sliced through the cold morning air, voices of chattering citizens mixed in with one another, and looming skyscrapers reached towards the sky. They exerted a feeling of intimidation and awe into the many citizens walking to their destinations. New York was a true thriving metropolis. The city roared with an almighty force from dawn til dusk. No other city seemed to match its omnipotence, displayed every second of the day. This city seemed to be the iconic gem in this vast world.
As magnificent as New York may have been, it was far from flawless.
“Get the hell away from me!”
Outside a restaurant in lower Manhattan known as Uncle Jack's Diner, a drunkard staggered clumsily around with a nearly empty bottle of whiskey clutched in his hand. He held onto the bottle as if his life solely depended on it.
Two officers, who were sent to handle the situation, tried to calm the man. Alas, their efforts seemed futile. The drunkard was like a mad bull, his eyes a shocking red from lack of sleep. He had wild tangles of brown hair, a unshaven beard, and putrid clothing that hung off his bony body. It was obvious that the officers were in no mood to deal with this problem, let alone have to touch the repugnant man.
“Put down the bottle,” spoke one of the officers, edging closer to him.
“Go f*** yourself!” yelled the man throwing the bottle at the officer's feet. Shards of glass and alcohol splashed to the ground.
“Goddamnit,” spat the officer angrily.
Inside the diner some of patrons watched the spectacle with intrigue and entertainment. They chattered excitedly amongst each other with wicked glee. Others ignored the scene and promptly dined on their breakfast.
“Monday mornings were never this interesting,” chuckled a man. He sat in the back of the diner looking through the window at the show in progress.
The wore a cheap dark navy blue suit (though he bragged that costed an outrageous amount) and a silver tie pin. His clothes seemed to squeeze the life out of him, while his stubby fingers resembled thick sausages. He took up virtually the whole booth with the epic proportions of fat that came rolling from his sides. He was a mountain of a man, but of course his size never troubled him from gorging himself with more food.
“How about we talk business, Robert.” Across the fat man sat an individual by the name of Samuel Ardan.
Samuel wore a double breasted gray suit (which, unlike Robert's costed a fortune) and a dark gray patterned tie that was made of pure silk. His youthfulness made him appear more of a child than a actual man, while his defined jaw line gave him an intensely serious look. Though his height was considerably moderate, at first glance you would still think he was just a pubescent school boy.
Outside the officers had withdrawn their batons and were now circling the deranged drunkard. People were speedily walking around the scene, to avoid being late to their destinations.
“Robert,” spoke Samuel again. “I need your attention here.”
Robert let out an exasperated breath and turned towards Samuel, annoyed. “What?”
“I set up this meeting to have us speak business,” began Samuel, “yet you remain resistant to speak to me on any level regarding such matters. Why is that?”
“Listen Sammy, I--”
“Don't refer to me as that name.”
“I,” continued Robert, “already know why you called me here and the answer is no.”
“Oh my goodness!” A woman had screamed in giddy excitement as the event outside reached its violent end.
One of the officers had tackled the vulgar man to the ground, holding him down. The other came over, bent down, and began repeatedly hitting the defenseless boozer with his baton.
“Jesus Christ!” exclaimed one of the patrons in the diner, stunned.
The sound of flesh colliding into the force of the baton was a sickening sound that even made some turn away in disgust.
“Can you believe those fools,” said Robert, looking outside again. “There was no need for such brute force.”
“My heart aches for that vagrant,” said Samuel sarcastically. “Oh why did God have to punish that sad sordid creature? Oh why?”
“What's eating you?” asked Robert turning towards Samuel.
“I need you to reconsider my offer and stop ignoring me. What I'm offering you is a great business opportunity. An opportunity that some would die for, Robert. Do you understand?”
“Don't be dramatic,” scoffed Robert. He turned back to the window. “You're just a small time bootlegger who thinks he has a chance of climbing to the top of the food chain. Well, I got news for you pal. That ain't happening. Not now. Not ever.”
The officers were hauling the drunkard to his feet. His face was a bloody mess as they threw him into their car like a sack of trash. With that part of the job done, they got into car themselves and drove off down the street.
“That is why I require your help, Robert.” Samuel stared fiercely at him with intensity that no other person in that diner could match. “I can assure you that this venture will be the best decision that you ever made in your life. There's money to be made in these streets and I'll bet my life there's enough for us all.”
At the sound of this Robert turned around and looked at Samuel suspiciously. “You must be one bold bastard for trying to sell out an officer of the law. For weeks you've been pestering me and any one of those times I could've had you pinched.”
“And why didn't you?” asked Samuel, leaning in close.
Robert didn't respond.
“You know as well I do that being a prohibition agent isn't as rewarding as being a bootlegger,” continued Samuel. “I'm giving you a way to change that. It may be a tricky business at times, but the reward in the end is as sweet as it can be.”
“But its illegal,” replied Robert pathetically.
“Half of the officers in this city are either guzzling down alcohol themselves or are already on some bootlegger's payroll. The Treasury Department are low on prohibition agents willing to do their jobs nobly, so I don't think we have any trouble peddling some alcohol ourselves.”
“The job I'm tasking you with is not complicated,” interrupted Samuel. His patience was waning. “I only need you to warn me beforehand when those agents decide when and where they're going to conduct their raid. My home, the warehouse etcetera. You're just giving me information that's all. Do you think you can do that for me?”
“I need a yes, Robert. Don't pass out on something as great as this.”
Robert placed his hands on his bulging stomach and let out a heavy sigh. “Ok Sammy. I'll do it.”
“Perfect Robert I--”
“But,” broke in Robert, “I want my money now as a sort of down payment.”
“Robert,” began Samuel, That's--”
“And,” he continued, “I want two bottles of the finest booze you'll be selling.”
Samuel, surprised by Robert's sudden directness, only smiled. “Sure Robert, he said. I believe I can have all of that arranged. Meet me tomorrow morning and we will talk the specifics.”
“Perfect.” With some difficulty, Robert slid out the booth. He put on his bowler hat and looked down at Samuel. “It'll be great doing business with you, Sammy.” Then he wobbled past the chattering patrons and out the restaurant.
After a few moments, a man that had been sitting behind Robert came and sat across from Samuel. “He's very interesting,” said the man. He spoke with a slight russian accent. “An officer entertained by the beating of a defenseless drunkard will be a strong asset to our group.” Sarcasm rolled off his tongue like a ball rolling down a steep hill.
“His character is indeed questionable,” said Samuel, “though at the present moment he is still necessary to the operation . . . for now.”
“But why him,” pressed the man. “He was so doubtful in the beginning yet all of a sudden has a change of heart? He even looks as if he can't stand on his own two feet!”
“I don't need to explain myself,” said Samuel wearily. Samuel slid out from the booth and began buttoning his jacket. “You shall see his usefulness soon enough. For now we travel to Harlem.”
“What the hell are we going to do in Harlem,” asked the man gruffly. “Our business is here.”
“My business is wherever opportunity calls,” said Samuel. “And Harlem is the perfect place to find such opportunities for a man of my stature. Now come. There's money to be made.”