If you haven’t read Christmas Punch: part one, you can find it HERE!
It was agonizing to watch the slow progress of the truck being unloaded. Micky turned away from his workers as he put a cigarette to his lips. He cupped his hands around the end to keep the winter wind from putting out his lighter. The butt glowed cherry red and he took a long drag. The smoke warmed his insides briefly. He looked up at the brownstone row houses as he tucked the lighter away and froze. His mouth went slack and he almost lost his cigarette. He snatched it out of his mouth and exhaled a white plume in fury.
Across the alleyway with her back to the bay window sat Delphia. A man leaned over and spoke in her ear. Before Micky even realized it, his feet were carrying him across the alley and down around the corner.
Delphia laughed at something Martin said. He had already refreshed his drink at least twice as she nursed her punch. She didn’t mind if he did. It was a party after all. Guests should enjoy themselves, but she didn’t want to numb her senses. She was on the fence about Martin. Moira insisted she take the plunge, but Delphia was waiting for something. A feeling that it was right. A few voices rose in the hallway and brought her back to the moment.
“Delphia, what the fuck is this?” Micky exclaimed as he rushed into the room like a storm cloud. Delphia flinched at the sound of his voice saying her name. He very rarely called her that. It was always pet names with him. Slowly, she met his gaze. Her face felt hot as she read the expression on his face. Indignation rose in her chest. She wasn’t doing anything wrong. She had every right to be out. She hadn’t seen or heard from him since the night she confronted him about his wife in the Libellule pantry.
“What’s the matter, pal?” Martin asked. “This a party, it’s a joyous occasion. Be our guest and help yourself to a drink.” Martin stood up to host Micky to the refreshments. The bootlegger’s eyes flicked to him with a dangerous glare. She couldn’t let this escalate. Martin was clueless.
“Micky, what are you doing here?” Delphia was on her feet and moved between them.
“I’m working,” he jabbed a thumb at the alleyway. “What are you doing here? And who the fuck is he?”
“Hey, take it easy!” Martin said. Delphia quickly put a hand on his chest and gently pushed him away. His brow furrowed in confusion. “Who is this?” Now it was Micky’s turn to push forward.
“You wanna know who I am?” he threatened as he held his coat open only enough to reveal his pistol nestled in its holster. Delphia was being jostled between them as onlookers stared.
“Micky, stop! He hasn’t done anything wrong!” she ordered. Delphia put her hands on Micky’s coat and thrust him back with all her strength. He yielded and stepped back. She stood on her tip toes and got in his face. Her finger poked him in the chest.
“I am not talking about this here.” Every word was forceful except for the last, which cracked. Micky’s lips pulled tight as he nodded slowly.
“Then I’m taking you home,” he replied flatly. Delphia shrugged.
“So be it.” She led the way out of the room. Martin followed after them, calling her name. He tried to squeeze past Micky in the narrow hallway and was met by a punch to the jaw that knocked him to the ground. Delphia grabbed a handful of Micky’s coat and pulled him away.
“Leave him alone,” she growled. Delphia opened a door to a room where the coats had been stashed. She flicked on the light. There was a gasp and a scramble before Moira’s head popped up over the back of the davenport.
“Delphia!” she cried. “You sorta caught us…” Her current beau, Arthur, sat up. Delphia rolled her eyes and started digging for her coat and hat. “Where are you going? Where’s Martin?” Micky moved into the doorway. His frown unchanged by the ridiculous expression that was on Moira’s face. Delphia gave her friend a look that said it all before pulling on her coat. She turned back to Micky as she put on her hat and nodded. They left Moira in her compromising position without a word. Clueless Arthur started nibbling on her shoulder and Moira swatted him away.
“What?” he asked playfully. Arthur finally noticed Moira frowning. “Who was that?” Moira looked him dead in the eye.
“Have you heard of Frank Sicero?” she asked. Arthur’s brow furrowed as he registered it.
“The guy who owns your cabaret? Doesn’t that make him your boss?” Arthur’s head tilted.
“Sicero owns half this town by now. He’s everyone’s boss, but you’d never know it, because he’s so hands off. That man with Delphia is his number one bootlegger. He’s one of the few that deals with Sicero directly.”
“You mean, I had a mobster at my party? Well, isn’t that the bee’s knees!” the young man exclaimed. Moira shook his head. He was smart enough to attend Princeton, but really clueless about the rest of life.
“What about your friend? Do you think she could…you know…get us more liquor?” Arthur asked. Moira shook her head again.
“Right now, I’m only hoping she’s alive in the morning to call me.” The smile fell off of Arthur’s face.
“Do you mean that? Should we call the police?” Arthur sat up straighter.
“You’re not listening! Sicero owns this town. Do you think a cop is going to stop Micky O. from doing what ever he pleases?” Arthur’s eyes drifted across the room as he processed what Moira said. They slumped against the back of the sofa.
“It’ll be all my fault too. I was the one who told her to start playing him. Then when he neglected her I suggested she come out and meet someone new. It was all me. I should have kept my mouth shut and let the stupid farm girl lead her own life!” Moira’s countenance cracked and tears started to roll down her face.
“I didn’t think he would come back,” she hiccupped, “Cylus said…” But she couldn’t even get it out. Arthur didn’t need to know about Cylus or what he said. It wasn’t the naïve ivy leaguer’s business. It wasn’t a part of his world. He tried to awkwardly console her, but he was out of his depth.
The sounds of holiday merriment drifted through the door to fall on deaf ears.
Christmas Punch: part three is available HERE!