Part II - Chapter 09 - The Arms' Deal

The hot and humid trip to town passed as a blur for Brisco and Doc. As Brisco stepped off the wagon in front of the hotel, he took a moment to study himself in the reflection of a window. Brisco straightened his tie and took in the rest of the suit. According to Brisco’s cover, he had to shave before leaving and wear a suit for negotiations with his “influential prospective buyer.” Brisco studied his suit for one last moment before making a mental note that he would have to appear extra paranoid from the night before so that their opponents would relax a bit more, leaving themselves open for the taking.

Brisco turned back towards the wagon to find Doc already working to unload the guns, the ammunition, the scrap metal props, and the TNT. All of the items that would enable Doc and Brisco to sell their cover stories. The rest of the real weapons would arrive with Fiona and Madeline in the car in the event there was any trouble and the local Irish mob decided to start a battle.

After all of the “merchandise” was unloaded and sitting in the dining room in preparation for the weapons sale, Brisco instructed Doc to go around to the various windows and doors of the dining room to ensure that everything was sealed. During the night, Pete and the hotel staff should have sealed up the dining hall and prepared it to stifle any noise under the guise of protecting “future weapon secrets.” By sealing off the room, it would also give the group an opportunity to pump gas into the room. The role of gassing the room was to be filled by Doc who had already volunteered for the job, wherever he was. Brisco had to admit, it was surprising that Michael would allow a stranger to gas the room. Brisco shook the thought from his mind to focus on spreading out the weapons. He ensured that the scrap metal props were towards the back of the room to ensure that they could be seen but not thoroughly investigated. He moved several tables to the center of the room and spread out the sketches and guns ensuring that the loaded guns were near him and the guns in the center of the room were unloaded.

After what felt like a half an hour or so, Brisco noticed that there was a small bar set up in the back of the room. Since it looked like the Irish group were still out and about, Brisco leaned behind the bar and helped himself to a beer. As he sat down, he winced when he felt that the beer was warm. But then thinking about the amount of work still ahead of him, he decided to press on and enjoy the beer as best as he could. Just as Brisco began to mentally review the plan for the 3rd time since sitting down, the doors swung open and the Irishmen walked in – the hotel manager, O’Banion, and Snake joined him in the dining room. As they closed the door, Brisco could the see that Playfair, failed thief from last night, was guarding the doors.

Brisco took another sip of the warm beer before nonchalantly stating, “You’re early.”

“We believe in getting business accomplished quickly,” O’Banion responded in his silky and smiling tone.

“We will start on time or not at all,” Brisco replied shortly before taking another gulp. “At this rate, I will need another 2 beers before Michael even arrives.”

“My compatriots and I were thinking that having a middleman is an extra expense that none of us want to deal with. Why don’t we begin negotiations now which will enable you to increase your fee and us to decrease our cost?”

Brisco finished off the beer, scratched his chin, and then stretched before standing. He walked across the room to grab another beer, as though the question was a preposterous musing brought up by a child asking why can’t the sky be brought closer to the earth?

“Well?” asked Snake in a more menacing tone.

“Listen, fellas, I appreciate the economical approach that you’re pitching here. I truly do. However, you have to keep in mind, Michael connects me to more people than you. If I burn Michael, I might as well blow up my supply because I’m never going to get another deal. Now you wouldn’t want that, right? Besides, I want to ensure that all of my people are safe and in sight before we begin any negotiations. So, on that note, let’s all have a seat, and have a drink or two. While I’m up, would either of you like a beer? Looks like you’re buying.”

O’Banion’s face was frozen in an icy smile, almost as forced as Michael’s during a job and sat down in a seat before motioning a decline to the drink offer. The hotel manager nervously stood behind a chair, unsure whether to sit on it, leave the room, or protect the bar from further pillaging. Brisco had no doubt that the hotel manager would stand on his head if asked by O’Banion. Snake was not so tempered in his response. He stormed out of the room but came back moments later pushing a confused Doc in front of him. Brisco looked out the closing door to see Pete joining the guard. He gave Brisco a quick wink and hat tip before turning his back as though he would be Brisco’s side of protection.

Doc was quickly pushed across the room to stand in the middle of the room. Brisco grabbed another beer and shoved it into Doc’s trembling hands. “Here you go, Doc. Celebrate! I’m about to make you rich.”

The beer had splashed out over the top of the beer bottle and Doc had to wipe off the beer before gingerly placing the beer down on a nearby table. “Thank you Mr. Finley but I prefer to celebrate after I have my compensation in hand and preferably in a safer place,” came Doc’s hoarse and whispered voice.

Brisco laughed and slapped him on the back, “Doc, ever the cautious fuck!”

“What about the charming young lady that was part of your group? The hotel manager said that she had left last night and no one has seen her since. Will she be joining us?” inquired O’Banion.

At the mention of Rachel, a protective feeling washed over Brisco which actually surprised him. “After the way you knocked out my scientist last night, do you really think that I would have her anywhere near this hotel?”

“That’s too bad. She would have been a welcome addition and a breath of fresh air and beauty for today’s meeting,” O’Banion sighed. He then surveyed Brisco’s clothing before musing, “Well, I see you are at least dressed appropriately for our meeting today.” The judgement in his eyes could not be missed as he seemed to still find Brisco’s appearance lacking compared to an invisible standard known only to O’Banion. For a moment though, his eyes flickered behind Brisco to the guns, sketches, and artillery before he focused back on Brisco. The room had an intense silence as both sides of the room measured the other, as though war was moments from breaking out over a peaceful sea.

“Vell, I muss say, I’ve nheva heard such a lout commotion,” came a sarcastic German accent. A tall man with sharp nose, thick eyebrows, and bushy mustache entered the room. His hair was parted down the middle and he wore a suit but based on the way he walked, it was clear that the man had a military background.

“I must say, Chuck, we are friends now? Ya? I can call you Chuck? Can we waylay ze formality?” his tone was both mocking and authoritative as O’Banion sat a bit straighter with the German’s entrance. “Franz, this is Chuck Finley, Chuck this is Franz von Papen.”

“Have a seat Fran,” smiled Brisco. “Have a beer.”

“Itz Franz,” came the polite correction from the German. His cheek twitched for only a moment before the German smiled and took a beer but remained standing next to Brisco. In fact, he continued to smile as he drank his beer. He smiled as he looked over Brisco. He smiled as he took mental inventory of the far side of the room. And continued to smile as he took another gulp.

Something about this German made Brisco’s skin crawl. There was a sinister nature in his smile that made Brisco want to just beat the shit out of him. “Yes, this was the man who was orchestrating the bombing of various factories. This was the man trying to create conflict between labor parties, big businesses, and the US government. This man was killing civilians – and why? For an agenda? Who’s and why? Or just for the hell of it?” Studying the lust in the German’s eyes as he eyed the artillery made Brisco sure that this sadist took pleasure in the destruction of others. At the realization, Brisco’s stomach hardened. It would take all of his strength to get through the rest of this mission.

“Your loyalty to your men and to your intermediary is commendable and unexpected. I have to ask, do you come from a big family? Or have you served in some great battle? Based on your reputation, I would have considered you more unscrupulous,” came the lilting voice of the Irishman.

During spy games such as these, the best lie is the truth. Or at least something close to the truth.

Brisco pressed on and with a smile gave the truth, “Only child. But yes, I have seen my fair share of violence. You don’t get to be so well acquainted with guns without seeing a bit of bloodshed.” Brisco looked at his pocket watch. The meeting was not set to start for another 20 minutes and Brisco did not want to continue small talk like this for the next 20 minutes. He wasn’t sure how long he could bury the hatred for Franz. “Where the hell is Mike? Can he get here earlier than the planned arrival time?”

“Based on yhour relationship vit your pocket vatch, I zink zis line of questioning is boring you. I have to ask, am I boring you as a host?”

“Let’s just say I prefer action over words, in all situations,” Brisco replied meaningfully.

“Snake here is the same way. Itchy trigger finger. I call it a disease but he assures me that it’s a form of loyalty to our cause,” O’Banion smiled as he pointed towards Snake.

“And you?” asked Brisco to Franz.

“Oh, I prefer to ask ze questions raver zan to anzer zem,” evaded the German.

“Me? I feel like any relationship is a dance. Friendships, Country-“ O’Banion’s list trailed off.

“Women?” interjected Brisco

“Of course. It’s all a dance. Getting as much as you can from the other person while giving as little of yourself as possible.”

“Doesn’t sound very patriotic.”

“It does if you zay ze right zings to ze right people,” Franz laughed, which Brisco found to be more blood chilling than the smile.

A large whine came from the outside door as it protested being pushed open. Within moments, Michael walked into the room with Playfair following behind him. Michael gave a forced laugh before beginning his Irish accent again, “I thought the meetin’ was goin to begin in twenty minutes? I only came a mite early as I was hopin’ for some whiskey or beer before we started plannin’ a little treason.”

“Ah Michael. Treason and the law, it’s simply a matter of which side of the gun you are on. But we wouldn’t dream of starting without you. I think it’s about time to send our boys on an adventure.” At that, Playfair and the hotel manager were tasked to keep the room private and placed on patrol at the front room. Doc was sent out the back, supposedly to bring in more weapons but in reality, to turn the pump at the assigned time. Brisco looked past O’Banion to Pete outside the room. To Brisco’s relief, it looked like Pete had convinced the hotel manager to go back to the front desk and allow Playfair and Pete to guard the main entrance.

When the room was only the foursome, Michael and Brisco quickly sprang into action and expertly explained the various artillery units, the guns, the ammunition, the TNT, and the sketches. As Franz and O’Banion listened to the sales pitches and inspected the various sketches, it was clear that they were not impressed. “While we are pleased at the quantity that you were able to bring into here, we are not impressed by the quality,” stated O’Banion.

“And if ve vere to be perfectly frank, the quantity izn’t even enuf for our upcomink event.”

Expecting that the mini arsenal would not be enough, Brisco made a big show about a briefcase that had been hiding under the blankets. He lifted it up and unlocked it as though the most precious cargo in the world was hiding inside of it. The room was gathered around the briefcase as though expecting some kind of invincible tiny weapon. When Brisco lifted the next set of sketched pages with the odd vehicles that Doc had designed carefully out of the box, he was sure to handle them as carefully as possible. However, when O’Banion and Franz took the sketches and looked over the pictures, they two men had very different reactions.

O’Banion seemed in a daze as he absently took the pages and began scanning through them as his anger began to become more visible turning into a white hot rage and then he exploded. “I will not be swindled! This is not what we agreed on!” O’Banion’s temper flared and he threw the pages up in the air. Brisco held in the chuckle as he had figured O’Banion would lose his temper at the lack of a futuristic weapon.

Meanwhile, Franz stepped back and didn’t even attempt to raise a gun or demand better weapons. He simply looked towards the artillery, as though he had another mission, one perhaps more nefarious. Brisco watched the smile slowly twist through the corners of Franz’s mouth. Michael and Brisco exchanged glances in an attempt to process Franz’s reaction.

“Now, now O’Banion. Zat’s no way to behave,” scolded Franz. He pointed at the mess and within moments O’Banion held back his frustration and began collecting the sketches off of the floor. “Iz zis your best veponz, artillery, and vehicles?”

Suddenly the reaction made sense to Brisco. “He is here to see what the ‘best’ Americans can offer!” The realization made Brisco’s stomach plummet. “He isn’t just here to create friction and chaos but to ensure dominance over the United States!”

Before replying, Brisco checked his pocket watch. The gas should begin filling the room soon. The gas masks were hiding in between the various weapons and within arm’s reach. Soon the mission would be over and they can take both of these pieces of shit into custody. Any minute now. Any minute.

But it didn’t happen.

“Gentlemen, I believe that my employer asked you a question?” asked O’Banion. He straightened up and pointed his gun at Brisco. Until this moment he had been trying to present himself as an equal authority figure in the room. But the more time that passed, the more he was acting like the younger brother of the neighborhood bully. All bark and no bite.

Unfortunately, there was still no gas seeping in to rescue them. If Brisco or Michael didn’t do something soon, they would both be dead.

“A deal’s a deal, we’d like our money-“ began Brisco in an attempt to stall.

O’Banion stopped short and even lowered his gun for a moment before bursting out in laughter. “Excuse me?”

“Listen, we don’t want any trouble. But a deal’s a deal.”

“We need a demonstration not pretty pictures. We need to see what we are about to purchase in action!”

“Listen, they’re too big to be brought to town inconspicuously. All of the secrecy that you want would go out the window. And if I brought you to my location, you would kill me and take the items. It makes much more sense, if I give you the pictures, you pay me my money, and I give you a map with the location of what you have paid for. It’s that simple.”

“Or you give me the pictures, I give you money, and you give me a map to a quicksand spot in the desert? Do you think I’m that stupid?” exclaimed O’Banion.

“I can’t believe that you would think that of me! Besides, I have gotten out of quicksand before and it’s not all that impossible. You see, back in the day, my friend Bowler and I met some pirates in the desert and-“

“You’re not helping,” muttered Michael under his breath.

“Or we could kill you now,” O’Banion threatened as he raised his gun to be eye level to Brisco.

“Put avay ze gun,” commanded Franz. “I have a few tool and dye companiez filled with hydraulic prezez. How much zteele do you need?”

Before Brisco or Michael could respond to the odd question, there was a shot and a woman’s scream. It only took a few moments before Brisco placed the voice, it was Rachel who screamed!

Suddenly there was a familiar sound and flash of light from outside. Brisco felt like an icy hand had grabbed his spine and his heart sank to his stomach. “I thought that James & Rachel would be in the shelter? What had happened? What caused James to leave early? Were one or both of them injured? Or worse, were they both dead?”

Brisco had barely enough time to process the questions before a Ford Model T came crashing through the wall. Brisco and Michael had just enough time to dive behind the bar before all hell broke loose. A bewildered and shouting O’Banion was pinned underneath a caved in part of the wall. O’Banion’s arms were unfortunately free and he was blindly shooting at the car, at the door, towards the bar, anything that seemed to piss him off. For all of his big talk, O’Banion was proving himself to be a man not used to violence.

Meanwhile, Michael had quickly recovered from the unexpected crash and grabbed one of the nearby loaded guns. He pumped the shotgun and began to quickly move towards his target, Franz. His prey, Franz, had already knocked over a table and positioned himself behind it. He aimed shots at Fiona who luckily had ducked shortly after crashing through the wall.

Snake had attempted to come back into the room through the hole in the wall created by Fiona’s car but found it difficult as O’Banion kept shooting wildly towards anything that moved, which included Snake. Ignoring O’Banion, Snake started shouting and motioning towards Franz, in an attempt to get the German to safety.

Brisco was still pinned behind the bar and had begun shooting towards Snake and Franz in an attempt to lay down cover fire as Michael moved closer and closer towards apprehending Franz. Just then a dainty hand threw a bottle of liquor with a lit cloth hanging out of it. Brisco had just enough time to see Fiona’s action before he threw himself onto the ground. Another explosion had gone off, luckily this one was less destruction and more smoke to disorient Snake, Franz, and O’Banion.

Brisco stood up and moved around the bar just as he glimpsed a small figure move through the smoke by climbing over the car. Just as Brisco was able to make out Fiona’s face, she began shooting across the room. Snake was down with a gut and headshot in moments. “So much for diplomacy,” Brisco thought. O’Banion was still in shock but luckily out of bullets. Pete came crashing past where Snake lay dead across the doorway. Pete had barely come into sight before Franz began shooting in Pete’s direction. Pete had just enough time to duck before Michael caught up to Franz and tackled him. Brisco quickly moved to aid Michael in cuffing the man. As Franz struggled, Michael hit the German as hard as he could to knock the enemy out. Once Franz was unconscious it was easy for Brisco and Michael to carry their prisoner outside to find Madeline waiting with the wagon Brisco had driven earlier in the day, ready to take on passengers and prisoners. She sat with the reigns across her lap, cigarette dangling from her mouth, and a shot gun loaded and ready to fire on anyone who might stand in her way.

As Brisco and Michael threw Franz into the wagon, Brisco turned to look back at the hotel to determine how far behind the rest of the group was from leaving the battle scene. Pete was the first to appear dragging a bound and gagged O’Banion.

“What the hell happened to the gas? Where’s Rachel and James?” demanded Brisco.

“Not the time,” grunted Pete as the two men threw O’Banion alongside Franz.

Just as Pete passed into the wagon, Brisco spotted Fiona. She was loaded up with most of the weapons and was in the process of tossing lit sticks of dynamite into the hotel behind her. As she rushed to meet the group, she explained that she and Doc had ensured that all guests had been evacuated and the only people remaining were part of the Irish mob. Doc awkwardly followed Fiona from a distance, he attempted to balance the rest of the weapons but it was more weight than the kid must be used to as he struggled to keep them together or off the ground.

Michael and Brisco ran to help ease Doc’s load and just as the group piled into the wagon, Madeline hit the reins and sent the team of horses flying out of the city. Just as the horses’ hooves hit the town border, the explosion went off destroying the hotel dining room and the small surrounding area.

“Fiona always was good at targeted explosions,” thought Brisco as he turned from watching the explosion to look at the group. In an attempt to begin to decompress, Brisco started to mentally assess the mission and the group. As he looked at Doc, it was surprising to see him staring open mouthed at Pete as though he had seen a ghost. Pete looked back at Doc with a look of derision unmatched by anything Brisco had seen before. Pete’s eyes fluttered to Brisco before he rolled up his sleeve revealing a bracelet similar to the one Brisco had briefly seen on James’ arm. Pete gave Brisco a wink before pushing a few buttons and with the familiar light and noise, Pete was gone.

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