Part 1

Christopher (Paddy) Kirkpatrick got out of his 1931 Chevy and patted down his suit. He reached into the passenger seat and picked up his hat, smoothing the rim before putting it on to his head. He crossed the street and went into the restaurant that was owned by his friend and boss. Nodding to the barman he let himself into the back office, snagging a green apple from the bowl as he passed. He took a bite and his cheeks drew together from the sharpness of the fruit, unperturbed he took another bite. To the eye Kirkpatrick seemed to be a normal, respectable man, but those who knew him, knew better. Behind the slanted smile and the sparkling dark brown eyes was a ruthless killer. A product of the sectarian riots in Belfast, he had fled to New York after taking part in a vicious killing of an RUC man, hiding in the flocks of people hoping to make a new life. With no money and no friends he had earned his living mugging and fighting. It was during a bare-knuckle fight he had met his boss. The big Italian had stood silently watching as the shorter hard-bodied Irishman had reduced his opponent to a bloody pulp. As he wiped the blood from his hands Joe Fatone had smirked knowingly and pressed his card into the fighter’s hand. Kirkpatrick nodded his acknowledgement and shoved the white piece of card into his pocket. Two days later he dropped past the same restaurant that he was in now. No more than ten words had been exchanged but by the time Kirkpatrick left he was on the pay role, and had been ever since. That had been three years ago. Now he was Fatone’s right hand man. They ruled their territory with fists of iron, demanding protection money from all that lived there.

Chris walked into the office and leaned silently against the wall taking another bite of his apple, waiting for his boss to acknowledge he was there.

“Steven, you came to me - you said to me - Don Fatone, I need time to pay. Have I not given you time? And now you tell me that you don’t have my money. It pains me that you think that you can try to fool me like this.” Joey sat back in his chair, a sincere look of hurt on his face.

“Don Fatone, I will pay, but my son is unwell. I needed the money I saved for you to pay for a doctor.” The nervous man standing before the mafia man shuffled from foot to foot. It hadn’t gone unnoticed to him that Kirkpatrick was behind him. “Don Fatone, please just a few more days. I’ll pay by Friday. I give you my word.”

Fatone stroked his short dark beard, contemplating the offer. He nodded his agreement but added, “payment in full by Friday or it won’t matter if your son is ill anymore.” The man looked confused. “Mr. Kirkpatrick will ensure that you won’t have to pay doctors bills for him anymore.” The threat was veiled, but very clear. Pay up or his son would be killed. “Paddy, see him out and make sure he understands that I mean what I say.”

Kirkpatrick grabbed the frightened man by the back of his collar and dragged him out of

The room. When he returned ten minutes later his knuckles were scrapped. He picked up his apple from where he had left it and took a bite.

Fatone lifted a well-shaped eyebrow, “he understands the situation I hope.”

“I think I explained it well enough,” Chris said humour sneaking into his tone.

Joe leaned back into his chair, balancing on the back two legs, his brown eyes glaring menacingly at his hit man. “You found out who is stealing from my patch?”

Kirkpatrick nodded solemnly. “It’s a kid, no more than 19 years old. A street rat. I followed him to his hole. He’s living rough and stealing just enough to survive.”

“He wants to work my patch, he pays like the rest of them. Bring him in.” Joey allowed himself a small smile. “Good work Paddy.”

Kirkpatrick smirked, “I’ll bring the kid in this afternoon. He won’t be able to pay though, he’s a half-starved street urchin.”

Joe’s smile widened. “Then we will have to find another way for him to pay won’t we?”

Chris laughed out loud, “He’ll need a bath and delousing first, but he should scrub up pretty enough.” He tossed the remains of his apple into the bin and winked before leaving.

As soon as he had gone Fatone picked up his phone. “Just keeping you informed poppa, Paddy found the street rat, well be dealing with him later today and Steven has till Friday then Paddy is hitting his kid.” He hung up and pulled an illegal bottle of whiskey from his top left drawer and took a large swig. Damn he loved his job.

JC hung in the shadows of the fishmongers, watching. He smiled to himself as the male customer slipped his wallet into his back pocket. Fool, the easiest place for a pickpocket. He gathered his threadbare jacket around his scrawny body and followed the customer out into the cold New York morning. He hung back until the throng of people that frequented the market place surrounded the man, and then he made his move. His nimble, slender fingers fished out the tan leather undetected. Pushing it deep into his pockets before turning and striding away with his heart pounding. As soon as he rounded the corner he slumped back against a wall, trying to steady his breathing. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the wallet, opening it carefully he took the notes and discarded the rest in a near by bin. He thrust the dollars into back into his pocket and started to walk down towards the bakers, his stomach rumbling in anticipation.

A heavy hand clamped down on his bony shoulder and he stifled a yelp of surprise.

“What you got there kid?”

JC turned to face the man standing behind him. “Nothing,” he said fear showing clearly in his eyes.

Kirkpatrick shoved him roughly into the wall and followed through with a punch to the younger mans gut, doubling him over and robbing him of his breath. “Don’t lie to me street rat.” Kirkpatrick delved into JC’s pocket and pulled out the fistful of dollar bills. “Looks like more than nothing to me boy!”

“It’s mine!” JC made a grab for the money but was met by Kirkpatrick’s hand grasping tightly at his throat, pinning him back to the wall.

“Tut, tut, tut,” Chris shook his head as if he was disappointed, “I think the man in the tan jacket and the trilby would beg to differ. Maybe I should just hand you over to the cops, they lock away little thieves like you. Sometimes they cut your hands off and say that you did it yourself trying to escape.”

JC paled and whimpered with fear. “Please sir, I was hungry that’s all. Don’t give me to the law, I won’t do it again I promise.”

Kirkpatrick’s eyes sparkled with malice. The kid was terrified. He pushed up against the skinny boy, his hand crushing JC’s chin. “What’s your name street rat?”

“JC sir.”

“Well JC, it’s too late for promises. You are a nuisance that isn’t going to be tolerated.” he took the terrified teen by his ear and dragged him whimpering back to face the music.

Kirkpatrick shoved JC through the restaurant door and transferring his grip from the teen’s ear to his hair dragged him down to the back office. He threw the boy onto the floor in front of Joe’s desk.

The Italian looked up a scowl on his face. “What’s this?”

Chris pulled his knife out of his pocket and started to clean his nails. “The pickpocket that’s been plaguing the market for the past three months.”

Joe laughed. “This!” He got up and JC cowered seeing the full height of the man. “Get up.”

JC stood up shaking as the mafia boss walked around him.

“You took the food out of my children’s mouths.”

JC whimpered, “No sir.”

“Shut up. You don’t speak, you are nothing, a dirty street rat.” Joe seized JC’s jaw and forced him to look up into his eyes. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t have Mr. Kirkpatrick here cut that pretty little throat of yours.”

JC stammered, “I’m sorry - I’m sorry. I was hungry. Please sir, don’t kill me. I’ll do anything.”

Joe shot a victorious grin at Chris, who sniggered softly to himself. The street rat had walked unwittingly into Joe’s trap.

“Have him washed and deloused and bring him by the club tonight.”

“What ever you say boss.” Kirkpatrick fisted JC’s hair again and pulled him out of the office, through the restaurant and into the street. He opened his car door and pushed the teen inside, slamming JC’s head against the dashboard when he attempted to escape through the other door.

“Don’t make me have to hurt you poppet. The boss wants you intact, I’d hate to have to explain why your pretty face is a bloody mess.” Chris pulled a pair of handcuffs out of the glove compartment and cuffed JC to the door handle. Ignoring the now sobbing boy he climbed into the drivers seat and pulled out into the traffic.