Well, it seemed that I wasn’t the only one excited about going to the Alfieri’s party. When Henry and I met our crew at Doc Johnson’s lab just past 1:30 pm, they were buzzing about how crucial it was for us to prevent a death that was likely to take place at the Alfieri’s the night of the party.
I am not much for saving the day alone, especially up against apparent supernatural nasties. Yet, I was the only one with a ticket. Heck, without the rest of the crew, it might be ME that ends of dead. After all, if my visions serve correct, before Silas was expelled from our timeline, I was not attending this party. Instead, I was with the guys bowling…with giant boulders and fleshy, ghouls for pins. I couldn’t go alone.
“Knighten, can’t your dad just scrounge up some more tickets?” Henry asked.
“First of all, Henry, my father does not ‘scrounge up’ anything. Secondly, like I said before on the way over. The Alfieri’s are way above our social class. If Chicago had royalty, they would be one of only a handful of contenders for the Crown. You could say they are like the Duke of Winnetka. Which is something, since Winnetka houses some of the most wealthy and powerful people in all of Illinois. So, Father, even with all of his contacts in the car industry still has never met the Alfieri’s before. This is a big deal for us.”
“Well, there must be a way in. There’s a possible innocent life that we could save. I ain’t backing down.” Benny beamed devoutly.
“Hey! What about the liquor stores? This party must have some supplier for alcohol. Krzysztof, what are the chances you can round up some liquor from a previous rum raid?”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Knighten. ARE YOU CRAZY! Go into Ness’s back room…nick the evidence key… and waltz right out the front door with several gallons of illegal contraband? What part of that plan did you think that I would go along with? I just got this job. I am not carrying out one of your stupid ideas just to jeopardize my career. No offense, Knighten, but Mama would storm right up to the Alfieri Mansion, tear down the door with or with out a ticket and KILL ME, if she found out I did something like that. If I even consider a plan like that, I just might end up the guy you guys find dead on the Alfieri’s marble floor. No thank you! There has to be another way.”
“Sorry, Krzysztof. I would never want to do anything that would put you in a situation like that.”
“It’s all right. Forgetta ’bout it.”
“I got it! I could write up a quick article to publish in the afternoon edition. It would highlight a Scottish noble who recently has come to the States. Henry has those ancient looking coins in the chest his Uncle Philip inherited him. I hear that Renato Alfieri and his wife Rosa are HUGE collectors. I would write about these coins as a ploy to get Herr Alfieri’s attention. We could set up a meeting with the Alfieri’s. Henry could get us in. You up to it, Hank?”
“Yah, I once played King Leer in a play we put on at the Guardian Angel Asylum for Lost Boys when I was orphaned there. I wore the best looking crown. But those tights I wore were quite chaffey. I don’t have to wear any tights, do I?”
“Too much information, Henry!” Krzysztof interrupted. “Knighten, good thought, but no offense. Who is going to be reading the afternoon edition of the Ripley Register? If we had a week or two to prepare, maybe it would work. But, we got to get a way in there by tomorrow before noon.”
“You’re right, Krzysztof. What ideas do you got?”
“Urgh…” Krzysztof sighed, uneasy about what he was going to suggest next. "I might know a guy, who knows a guy, who JUST MIGHT owe a favor to another guy I know. I know it sounds hooky. But, this guy might know who is ALREADY delivering the liquor to this party. After all, it is only one more day to the party. Even the most backwards schnuck stuck on Polish-time would never wait until the last minute to order liquor a day before a much-talked-about party. And if this is everything Knighten says it’s going to be, then the Alfieri’s must have had this ‘special order’ requested months ago, with a few contingencies, just in case the Untouchables weren’t looking in the other direction.
“There is only one catch. Henry, I will need to borrow your specific “skill sets”. I can’t actually get mixed up in all this. It would be…well, a conflict of interest."
“First I am playing an encore performance of King Leer. Next, I am a bootlegger. What will you need me to do next?? Yah, sure. No problem. Same stipulation, though… NO TIGHTS!”
“You got it, Boss. Knighten, can you give us a ride down to the docks tomorrow morning? Say, 8 o’clock?”
“Now everybody head on home. It is almost 3:00 am. We all needs some sleep for tomorrow. That 8 o’clock will be coming early.”
We all shuffled into the cold early morning darkness. I was a little concerned if this plan was going to work. I now understood why Krzysztof was a bit reluctant to suggest this idea. The only people that dealt in contraband alcohol were the mobs. The possibilities of what could go wrong swirled in my head like the after effects of a bad drink. Boy, I was glad of two things. First, tomorrow I was only going to be driving the car. And second, I already HAD my ticket.
“Oh wait! Everyone, before we all head home, CG said she has something important to talked to us about.”
“It will have to wait until the mid morning.” Krzysztof insisted.
“She said it had to happen tonight BEFORE we go to this party.”
“Urgh” Krzysztof sighed again. “Let’s make it quick.”
We all made a quick stop at my place in Lakeview. CG filled us all in about Thresholds and how they work. Just another wrench in the mix. With that we all said good night and returned to our homes.
The next morning I showed up with Henry at Krzysztof’s house right after I dropped of my tux to be cleaned. We stayed in the car with the heater on full blast. A glimmering coat of ice coated the streets and sidewalks. I gave a brisk honk with the horn. Krzysztof immediately came out. From the look on his face, it looked like he did not appreciate the honk. He cautiously made his way down the icy steps, analyzing each step with meticulous detail that only a fourth-generational cop could do. He hopped in the shotgun position. Henry was in the back seat still sleeping.
“Take a right on Ashland, then head towards the 90. You’ll need to go South once you are on the the Interstate.”
I followed Krzysztof’s directions to the docks. The warehouse was half boarded up. Many business in this commercial area were now out of business. It looks like the fingers of the mob had its influence here.
“Are you sure this is the place the guy said to go?”
“Like the back of my hand. Kid, you stay in the car. Keep it running…uh…so you don’t freeze.” He said it like he was keeping something from me. “Henry, wake up. We’re here.”
Henry got up from the seat. His face had the indentation of the seat texture across his brow. He couldn’t stop from looking like we was scowling, even if he tried.
“That’s perfect, Henry! Boy, you are good.” Krzysztof said excitedly.
“Oh. Never mind. Follow me.”
They both went into the building. I kept the car running as Krzysztof said. Twenty minutes later, Krzysztof returned alone. Where was Henry? Krzysztof explained that Henry would be fine. He just needed some time to work his magic. No sooner had he explained what happened when a couple of rough dock workers came around the corner wheeling 5 large barrels marked “Extra Virgin Olive Oil”. Henry followed close behind. A large business-man looking ruffian was walking next to him. He wore a huge smile on his face. Apparently, things went better than Krzysztof had hoped for.
“What a nice guy.” Henry said after the five barrels were loaded in my car and he was sitting in the back seat. “He was more than happy to let us take the responsibility off his hands. Apparently, he wasn’t even getting paid for this shipment. It sounded like it was a favor of favor kind of deal. He did seem kind of nervous when he talked about Renato Alfieri, though.”
Interesting. Who was this Alfieri to have a thug like that a bit skittish? From everything else Henry gathered, the mob pretty much stayed clear of Alfieri. They would jump when ever he called. This plan was sounding a little bit more dangerous as we began to learn more about Herr Alfieri. What if he was the one that was to do the killing? If he struck fear into the hearts of the entire mob families, what chance did we stand in countering his hidden plans of murder? What were we getting into? Was this all really a good idea? What if it was not going to be ONE murder, but a whole massacre? Maybe Dr. Johnson’s premonition was so strong regarding the future death, because it was in fact a full out massacre. Boy, what if at the end of the day we all end up dead on the Alfieri’s marble floor?
I looked over at Krzysztof. He looked back at me as if he was thinking the same thing I was.
I looked back at Henry from the rear view mirror. Henry was embracing a whole barrel, holding it close like it was his girl. I could see him “eying” it up and down like a pin up. Only hours before the party. I still needed to pick up my tux from Shondor’s Cleaners in Avondale. If I was going to die today, at least we wouldn’t have to pay the mortician to dress me in my best clothes.