1635: THE CANNON LAW â€“ snippet 58:
They shot the bolts and opened the big double door wide in front of Frank. He stepped out, not letting himself have any time to chicken out. The street was dark, apart from where light spilled out from the couple of other buildings that were occupied around here. Frankâ€™s first guess had been off. There were maybe a dozen guys out there. All of them at least half drunk, if not more. A couple had been stood right by the door, and having it open in front of them had clearly come as a surprise. Well, Frank thought, donâ€™t waste it.
â€œWhat are you doing, you sons of whores?â€ he roared, stepping right up to the nearest drunk.. The guy looked like heâ€™d been stunned. Certainly not about to call Frankâ€™s bluff.
Some of the others werenâ€™t so taken aback. â€œWhoremonger!â€, â€œPimp!â€ and â€œPervert!â€ were the few Frank could pick out. His grasp of Roman idiom wasnâ€™t good enough for more than the basics of the local swearing.
â€œYeah, says who?â€ Giulio shouted. Bellowed, rather.
â€œYeah, show yourself!â€ Frank shouted.
He really wasnâ€™t happy about this. The whole stand-up-to-a-bully thing just wasnâ€™t his scene. Back down and take elaborate comedy revenge later, that was his style, but it just wasnâ€™t going to work here and now. Time to find out if confrontation worked.
A momentâ€™s tense silence… Not right away, it doesnâ€™t, Frank thought to himself. Aloud, â€œCome on! You got a problem with me, step right the fuck up.â€ He pointed at the ground in front of him. He wasnâ€™t sure why, he just thought heâ€™d seen it on TV one time.
More silence, a couple more shouts from the back of the crowd, calling him a pimp and a few other things. He looked around. Most of them had drifted closer, and enough windows were opening that Frank was starting to see faces instead of just pale, unshaven blobs. He didnâ€™t recognize any of them, and a dark suspicion began to form.
Behind him, he heard Dino say, â€œYou want we should break some heads, Frank?â€
â€œYeah, say the word,â€ Giulio added.
â€œI shall probably regret this,â€ came Pieroâ€™s voice, and the sound of something steely slipping out of a scabbard, â€œbut I do not feel that I can let this pass without intervening.â€
Something about that last bugged Frank a little, but he wasnâ€™t going to worry about it now. â€œNo, guys,â€ he said, doing his best to imitate his father-in-law doing the mafia-don act he put on for Muranoâ€™s low-life. He held up a hand. â€œI see how this is. You guys,â€ he said, waving a hand at the gang in the street, â€œI see how it is. You got your money, you did what you came for, go collect your pay. Itâ€™s over. And next time, you take the money, you come here and have a quiet drink, and go back and just say you did it, okay?â€
There was a pause. â€œWhat about all that stuff you wrote?â€ came a voice from the back.
There was always one, Frank figured. â€œI never wrote it,â€ he said. â€œAnd I wouldnâ€™t. Only guy gets to fuck my wife is me, you hear?â€ he shouted, grinning. â€œIf you saw her, youâ€™d understand why I feel real strongly about that.â€
That got a few grins. Hey, itâ€™s working. He decided heâ€™d strike while the iron was hot. â€œI figure you all got someone you feel that way about too, and I ainâ€™t going to mess with that.â€
â€œBut you wrote -â€œ said the heckler, and Frank noted that he was staying in back.
â€œIâ€”WROTEâ€”NOâ€”SUCHâ€”THING!â€ he roared at the top of his lungs. â€œThe bastards are trying to get you angry at your best hope of getting whatâ€™s coming you, is all. Theyâ€™ve seen what the Committeeâ€™s done in Germany and they donâ€™t want it happening here! You think some stinking Spanish nobleman wants to see you doing well? When heâ€™s getting fat off your hard work?â€
There was a round of muttered â€œnos,â€ although Frank would have guessed that most of these guys hadnâ€™t done a dayâ€™s work in their lives.
â€œRight!â€ he pressed on. â€œSo maybe they want to tell you a few lies and get you mad at us over bullshit! Thatâ€™s what it is. Nothing but fucking bullshit. Now, you guys going to go home, or come in for a drink, or what?â€
In the end, most of them drifted off. A couple of them came in for a couple of drinks, but seemed kind of embarrassed, and the regulars didnâ€™t exactly make them feel welcome. Frank wished he could fix that. If he could just get a few of these fellows on his side heâ€™d have someone who could tell him what the hell was going on with all this rent-a-mob stuff. It wasnâ€™t like it was even doing much harm, apart from the odd rock getting thrown and Frank having a hell of a repair bill. As it was, all he could get out of them was that some guy had offered them a bit of money and a skinful of drink to turn out and throw rocks at Frankâ€™s Place, and some guy had passed around the handbills and gotten quite irate about the whole sharing-of-women thing. And that was it, apparently. Two of them had â€˜workedâ€™ for these guys before, and they were usually in one of the taverns on the via Ripetto picking up warm bodies for this kind of thing. There were some guys all but making a living at it.
Still, it was more than heâ€™d got up to now, through Benito asking street kids. And he wondered if theyâ€™d be dumb enough to let, say, Dino or Fabrizzio join one of their hired crowds. That would get them a lot more information, assuming he could drill the Marcoli boys with the absolute necessity of keeping their yaps shut and not arguing with whatever bullshit they were asked to shout or hand around.
He decided heâ€™d sleep on it.