You can find Part One of A Stray Boxcar: HERE
“Who are you?” Spots asked as they headed out of town.
“What d’ya mean? Sicero already told you, I’m Micky O,” he replied confused.
“But what do you do for Mr. Sicero? He wanted you specific and you…you know…came when you were called.” Spots tentatively pointed out that he already noticed Micky was a dog on a short leash. Micky swallowed his initial response (You’re on thin ice, kid!) and tried to put spin on the incident.
“This involves liquor, don’t it? That would be my area of expertise. I manage a lot of Sicero’s operation. If we need a lot of liquor moved fast and quiet, then I handle the logistics of it.” Spots studied him from the corner of his eye.
“What about manufacturing?” he asked.
“Are you working for the law?” Micky scoffed. “Mind your own business. You ain’t working for Mr. Sicero yet.”
The car was silent for a moment.
“I was only wondering why I got stuck with you,” Spots finally said.
“I’m not some grunt if that’s what you’re thinking,” Micky snapped. “I do important work for Sicero.”
“But I’ve never heard of you before,” the kid pointed out.
“That’s a good thing,” Micky scoffed, “And who the fuck would you know anyway besides your mother. You probably haven’t even been out of the state.” Spots folded his arms.
“I’ve been to New York. I know what it’s like,” he grumbled. Micky continued.
“Notoriety can impede business. Next thing you know the law comes around wanting bribes for this or that. If you can’t afford that you’re better off staying out of the papers.”
Spots shrunk a little with disappointment. Micky could tell the kid had read one too many issues of The Black Mask and watched too many newsreels before the picture shows.
“The crossing is coming up soon,” Spots grumbled before falling silent for the longest period since town. Micky was displeased to be stuck babysitting. He had been peppered with obnoxious questions since walking out of Tino’s with the kid. He pulled over when Spots pointed out the railroad crossing up ahead.
“Why are we stopping here?” the kid asked. “The crossing is up there.”
“We can’t park up there. It’d attract attention and we don’t want that. We’ll cut through the trees.” Micky pulled out his revolver and checked it over.
“You think we might get into something? Should I have a gun too?” Spots asked.
“There’s always a chance you might get into something. You have to be prepared, but I’m not too concerned about you needing a gun right now.” Micky got out of the car and started walking towards the woods. Spots was on his heels and darting glances in every direction.
“Relax, kid, you look suspicious,” Micky said, his mouth barely moved.
“I’m trying to keep a look out, in case anyone else is coming.”
Micky rolled his eyes.
“You need to learn to look with your eyes, not your whole fucking head. If you walk into the woods without a care, anyone who sees you is going to think you’re off to shoot some squirrels. When you’re looking around like an ass, they think you’re up to something.” Walking through the woods was already not one of Micky’s favorite pastimes. He was not dressed for climbing through brush. At least the effort it required made Spots shut up for a little longer.
They made it to the edge of the woods and there on the siding sat a lone boxcar. Micky scanned the clearing. It was quiet. He had worried that there was still some sort of watchman that was keeping an eye on the railcar. He waved Spots a little closer.
“Go on,” he ordered. The kid trudged over to the railcar as Micky lingered in the trees. Spots made it all the way to the car and gripped the cracked door. He pried it a little wider and glanced back at Micky.
“Are you coming?” he said in a loud whisper. Micky took another glance around and went out into the open. By the time he reached the boxcar, Spots had already climbed inside. Micky heaved himself up and let his eyes adjust to the dark. Filling the railcar were stacks of crates painted with a maple leaf.
“What the fuck is this? Maple syrup?” he asked as he read the stencil on the boxes.
“No, no, no, look!” Spots reached into an opened crate and pulled out a bottle that was definitely not syrup. He handed it to Micky for inspection. It was whiskey and it had to have been smuggled all the way from Canada.
“Are you sure this is all filled with whiskey?” Micky asked. Spots nodded and struggled to pull down another crate. He pried it open and dug through the excelsior only to reveal more whiskey and zero maple syrup. Micky nodded and motioned for him to seal it back up. The boy was kneeling down in front of him and Micky could see the base of his skull exposed underneath his flat cap. He reached inside his coat and his grip tightened on his revolver. One shot and this kid wouldn’t be a problem. He pulled the gun out and aimed it. The barrel was little over a foot away from its target. Frank’s words repeated in his mind again.
If and only if there isn’t and never was any liquor.
Micky threw caution to the wind. Frank wasn’t the one that had to drive all the way up here with the little shit. With the little click of the hammer as he pulled it back, Spots froze. Micky heard the boy’s breath quicken as he slowly look over his shoulder and was met by a gun barrel between the eyes.
“What’s going on, Micky O?” Spots’s voice cracked as he tried to play it cool. An attitude betrayed by the fright in his eyes. Micky tilted his head and let out a cold laugh.
“Another lesson you need to learn. Don’t ever turn your back to anybody. Not even your best friend, got it? I could have Jesse James’d your ass just now.” Micky put the hammer back and holstered the revolver. Spots looked like he was about to be sick. “You need to get used to having a gun pointed in your face too. It’s gonna happen sooner or later and you don’t want to be pissing yourself and fainting.”
“I didn’t piss myself!” Spots snapped defensively. He stood up and composed himself.
“I would hope not or you’re not riding in my car.” Micky picked up the bottle Spots had pulled out and tucked it in his coat. He settled a hand on Spots’s shoulder. The boy flinched, but didn’t shake him off.
“Well, Spots…It looks like we have a lot of work to do,” Micky said jovially.
Continue reading: Part Three