The Fixer From Boston – Chapter One

The Fixer From Boston – Chapter One

Saturday 28th March 1925 – Beacon Hill, Central Boston, Massachusetts:

13:00pm – Solomon King’s Residence

On to Halifax, well, that certainly was all kinds of a coconut shy!

Solomon King in a world of pain…and not someone else’s, for a change!! So shaken we are to only call Mr. Solomon directly;  not his lawyer or partner so he must be very paranoid.

When that much hooch goes walkies an eruption can’t be far away. I mean I almost feel sorry for the guy. He also offers extra muscle by way of his two remaining lieutenants, the Fox Brothers.

Time for me and the boys to go to work.

Beacon Hill and West End - 1925
Beacon Hill and West End – 1925

As we leave King Solomon’s Boston offices in Beacon Hill, Boston, head filled with crosses, double crosses and a world of paranoia, I can’t help but admire the scale and quality of his operation. But my musings are interrupted by a discrete nudge from Vincenzo The Ghost Morello….

Vincenzo “The Ghost” Morello: “Boss, some chump is on to us, that waspish guy pretending to read a sheet has just climbed into a meat van…it don’t look right to me.”

Like they say, ‘The Ghost never sleeps’, and it’s a great bit of work. The meat van in question bears the Castelli & Sons livery. A not so subtle front for Deano Lombardi, a medium weight Spic mobster who has a split of the South Boston action, along with Billy Brucola.

Vincenzo “The Ghost” Morello: “He ain’t driving boss, and it looks like there must be some fellas in the back.”

I’m not overly concerned, between us we know most of Lombradi’s crew, and have carried out ‘consultancy’ work for Deano in the past.

The big Q is how much they know. There’s only one way to find out!

Billy “The Cook” Macnifey is at the wheel and almost telepathically he pulls off a move so slick I suggest we give it a bow tie. He guns my new ‘Deusy’ customised Model A Deusenberg, with soft hands and steel nerves.  The power of the straight 8 engine and the revolutionary hydraulic brakes translate in to a screeching trail of smoke and rubber that magically appear behind Mr Castelli’s lumbering van.

The out-witted occupants pull over and Lombardi’s right hand man steps out. Luigi The Fox, starts out with his hustle and once all the pleasantries have been got through and the hot air cooled – thankfully for Luigi, Berkely is attending to other business – we explain in no uncertain terms our company policy.

We are men, men of our word and men of deed. We are no merchants of tittle-tattle and idle women’s gossip. What is said in confidence remains in confidence.

Luigi climbs down, but reveals that people know that Solomon King is not his usual self and Lombardi merely wants to know what’s going down.

Meanwhile, Macnifey, gets a handle on the driver, a hard faced Italian who claims he fought in the Great War and mentions “Caporetto”, the forgotten front.

The Battle of Caporetto in 1917 (also known as the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo, the Battle of Kobarid or the Battle of Karfreit), took place from 24 October to 19 November 1917, near the town of Kobarid (part of the Austrian Littoral), on the Austro-Italian front of World War I. The battle was named after the Italian name of the town (also known as Karfreit in German).

Austro-Hungarian forces, reinforced by German units, were able to break into the Italian front line and rout the Italian forces opposing them. The battle was a demonstration of the effectiveness of the use of stormtroopers and the infiltration tactics developed in part by Oskar von Hutier. The use of poison gas by the Germans also played a key role in the collapse of the Italian Second Army.

WWI Equipment Italian
WWI Equipment Italian

This indicates that the Italian crew run by Lombardi are employing Great War Veterans from the Italian army. Seems like some wounds aren’t just on the outside.

We eliminate Lombardi as a suspect. Together with Morello I head over to Boston Central library to get up on St Pierre

It gets cold this time of year -18C – +5C, and I make a note to get my outfitters to supply myself and the boys some suitable winter clothing.

Macnifey wants to check on criminal records of King’s Lieutenants, Joseph Linsey and Hyman Abrams, but it looks like they’ve been good boys of late.

I call King Solomon to keep him in the loop. Mr King, also reveals that his two guys headed to Halifax, Novia Scotia first, by boat. They had booked into the Terminus Hotel and were looking to use an above the counter shipper to get them to St Pierre, a once weekly service that should take 2 days. The also took ‘Certain Special Items’ with them (Tommy Guns?). Their last call was from the Hotel on the Thursday 19th of March and they were looking to head out the following day.

It’s decided that we make a quick start and flights to Halifax are booked for the following day.

Berkely will join us in Halifax under his own steam. The guy’s a maverick but there’s no better when you’ve got no chips left at last chance saloon.

Halifax - 1900
Halifax – 1900

Sunday 29th March 1925 – Halifax, Nova Scotia:

14:45pm – Halifax Docks

We arrive in Halifax, by flying boat, and check in to the Terminus, courtesy of Bob, the amenable and compliant concierge. Palms crossed, Morello takes a look through the register.

Halifax Docks, Nova Scotia
Halifax Docks, Nova Scotia

Meanwhile we play out our cover story of yours truly as stag, Berkely as best man and Macnifey and Morello as bat men…out on a moose hunting expedition.

Looks like Joseph Linsey and Hyman Abrams, going under the names Allcock and Brown made it this far to Halifax: checked in on the morning of  the Thursday 19th of March into room 18. Morello also notes a Karvinsky was in residence and a Ms Amy Brown, had booked into room Thursday 19th of March on the same day. Bob tells us she’s a real looker; would you believe a foreign sounding female radiographer….this women’s sufferage thing has got completely outta hand.

Bob remembers Allcock and Brown, says they were on a fishing trip and due out on the Friday 20th of March boat from Halifax to St Pierre, but that a wild spring storm started up for 3 days and all maritime traffic was put on hold.

St. Pierre 1922
St. Pierre 1922

This could explain things, perhaps they took out a private charter and got caught napping?

We book into rooms 18 and 19, after finding out from the register that they were the rooms used by Allcock and Brown and the Mystery Woman Ms Amy Brown, and begin searching for clues. The trails been cold for a week but there’s always clues for those who use their wits.

There’s a door that connects the rooms and Macnifey notes that it’s been used recently. Looks like little Miss Amy Brown knew our two missing persons! As if proof was needed, the rug is rolled up and we find flour under it. Plain as day are prints of two women’s footprints and of two men. Allcock, Brown, Miss Amy Brown and possibly the hotel maid?

Macnifey finds a .45 Handgun still taped under the dressing table….they must of left in some sort of a hurry.  Why?

Back in Ms Amy Brown’s room Morello checks the letter block and manages to pick out the imprint of something scribbled down –

‘Sable, why Sable?’

Is this a reference to a fur or the animal or something else?

Sable Light House
Sable Light House

We head back down to the lobby and loosen Bob’s tongue a little more. He reckons Miss Amy Brown was from the Balkans. Beautiful and clever (and persuasive?)  He knew she was going to Sable Island, a glorified sand bar 400 miles due SE from Halifax; Courtesy of a telegram that arrived for Miss Amy Brown from William MCoy. It read

All set for Sable. Stop.

The sting in the tail is that it was sent form Portland.  But at least the Sable note make some sense.

Any proof that William MCoy has been in Portland? Need to verify this.

Also says that King’s boys, Allcock and Brown, just upped and left without picking up their luggage, but that a nautical type came by and settled their bill and went off with their belongings on the 21st. He had a Scottish accent.

But he can recall when Miss Amy Brown paid and left the hotel, and where did she disappear to in the middle of a Force 10 storm?

So maybe they were dumb enough to head off to Sable Island in a crazy storm. But why did William MCoy change destination without telling Solomon King? It’s started to smell like a double-cross, question is who’s in on it?

Meanwhile we follow Allcock and Brown trail, which leads us into town for a drink at LaBelle’s, a half a buck a dance clip joint. Our taxi driver remembers them and delivered them safe and sound back to the Terminus at 2AM.

La Belles madame tells Morello, that Daisy and Flower looked after Allcock and Brown. Brown was carrying a .45.

Ed Berkely arrives the next morning, having sailed up on his 36’ motorised sail fishing boat, “The Beauregard”, looking for all the part the scruffy itinerant sailor in need of a good bath. He declines my offer to smarten himself up.

Pilot Chart - 1923
Pilot Chart – 1923

The night passes without ado and it’s soon time to go to work. Solomon king is not a patient man at the best of times.

We split into two teams. Berkeley & Morello make for the Docks. The Harbour Master tells of the “Black Cat” a for hire charter boat that went out against all sane advice. It is or perhaps was, Captained by Andrew McTavish. No prizes for guessing where he hails from. He set out on the Friday 20th of March and by all accounts sailed at 22.30 PM, Due South and straight into the storm.

John and Mans both roll Luck of 01!!

Both berths next to “Black Cat” are full and they tell everything they know.

Amy Brown, or Amelia as overheard by one of the residents berthed next to the “Black Cat”, was on board. As were two guys…Joseph Linsey and Hyman Abrams….but apparently willingly.

Myself and McNiffey head to the local newspaper office.

Billy finds a recent article about Sable Island.

Emilia Ickerson becomes first female radio operator.
Due to start her service this month.

Written by Nathan Whisby.  

A call to Nathan Whisby reveals his source was from a Military posting. She studied in Toronto.

Sable Island has 2 lighthouses manned by two men each and a Rescue office consisting of 8 personnel.  There is a Supply boat that visits once a month. Curiously there is also a herd of over 600 wild horses on this horseshoe shaped ridge of sand, that is more famous for its litany of ship wrecks than wild horses. But the horses are better protected and it seems that it is illegal to visit Sable without permission. Maybe Amy/Emilia wants to set up a riding school!

On a hunch we persuade the radio operator to call in to Sable and check Amy/Amelia isn’t  already there.

There is no response, only the hysterical crackle and hissing of radio static. My nerves start to jangle.

Ed and Vincenzo return to the Hotel but en route decide to go down a dark alley together. Berkely flashes a dead eyed grin and lifts a flap of his great coat to reveal a leather workmans tool belt from which hangs a heavy hickory handled hatchet, a club hammer and a sharpened bolster. Morello edges back, laughing nervously,  unsure of the hit man’s intentions.  Fortunately it merely was what Berkely euphemistically described as:

“A Perimeter Check”

On their return to the Terminus Hotel Vicenzo spots that someone has been in room 18 and conducted a very discrete search. Very large male footprints can be made out in the flour under the rug.

On further investigation Ed finds similar tracks in the snow, opersite the hotel view a clear view of reception, that head back into town

Bob didn’t notice anyone loitering he did help a lady out to a taxi and was away from his post of 10 minutes, so instead Morello chats up the lift operator, an impressionable young Italian, who describes a gigantic 6’5” heavily bearded man, wearing outback winter boots and a vast, heavy fur coat.  He also took a look at the guest register.

King Solomon has sent a telegram. For a grand a day plus expenses I afford him a telephoned update of proceedings.

We need to find sasquatch before he find us.

The Beauregard
The Beauregard

Then head out to Sable island on “The Beauregard” and find where Solly’s hooch has got to.

Sable Island
Sable Island


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