CUTSCENE: The Problem with Rats

August 16, 2018:

Carmine Falcone concerns himself with rats.

Gotham Docks

One of the piers of Gotham docks.


NPCs: Carmine Falcone, Jake Bar, and Milos Grapa

Mentions: Frank Castle, Kingpin

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Gotham City, New Jersey
16th of August, 2018

An almost feral heat has taken over Gotham City. It swelters, and the ever-increasing humidity leaves the air thick and fetid. With the outgoing tide, dead ghost shrimp broil on the exposed rocks and crude beaches beneath the docks of Pier 16. To battle the smell, Carmine Falcone presses his handkerchief ever closer against his mouth and nose, but the smell of rose water hardly masks the almost sulfurous rot of the glassy sea-creatures below.

“If you please, Mr. Bar,” Falcone finally interrupts, removing the handkerchief from his mouth to speak to the monstrous man beside him, “I have not the time for your commentary. You said you had information from Hell’s Kitchen.”

Jake Bar shifts his monstrous weight from one foot to another. Falcone can’t help but notice how the heat is doing the large man no favors. Great stains of fresh sweat color his quadruple-XL button-up under his arms and at the loosened collar, and he mops a bit of his forehead with a unflattering pass of his sleeve cuff — two things The Roman finds about as unacceptable as the heavy pouch of fat hanging over the man’s belt.

But, Bar is just a disposable associate, and not worth the training required to see a more secure employment under Falcone’s firm. He has information, and that’s all Falcone needs of him. If only he would cease his endless prattling about the Red Sox.

“Sorry, boss,” Bar says in a bassoon quite applicable for his size. He clears his throat, giving his forehead one more pass before he accepts the slow dribble of sweat from his thick hairline. “Got solid confirmation that the Kingpin is behind those bombings in H.K.”

Falcone’s mouth tightens into not smile or frown, but instead a look of closed ire. “I trust that by ‘solid,’ your source is from within the Kingpin’s organization. I won’t abide by half-assed intel.”

“Sure, boss, sure,” Bar rumbles. “Came from some Cartel kid who helped set some of the bombs in the Kitchen. Said that he was paid five hundred to set-up explosives in a bar called Josie’s.”

Some Cartel kid… Falcone grimaces, breathing back into his handkerchief as he looks out across the water in the direction of New York City. “So. The Kingpin has secured himself the Kitchen with fire and blood. How poetic.”

The Roman pivots to look back at Bar. “Did you bring me the kid?”

“Yeah, boss. ‘Course.” Bar’s thick face breaks into a broad, bulldog smile. “Figured you’d want to talk to him. Boy, he talks.”

“See to it that he continues to. I hear that Cartel boys are an endangered species.”

“You mean that Punisher guy?” Bar starts to chuckle. “Oh yeah, that’s how I got him to talk. Told him he’d be safe as houses here in Gotham. Dude wouldn’t come following some Cartel scrap over the Hudson.”

“Lucky for you, Mr. Bar… we can actually provide him with that safety.” For now. “Good work, Mr. Bar. I will let you know when I require your assistance again. Mr. Capello will see that you are properly compensated.”

And that promptly ends the exchange, Carmine punctuating its finale with a sharp and precise pivot on his clean shoes. He starts toward where a slender, well-dressed man looms several yards away. When he passes the balding man, he falls into stride just behind Carmine.

The Roman doesn’t speak to his silent bodyguard until they are nearly at the waiting car. He places his hand on the backseat door, once it has been opened. He glances slightly back toward the dock, and then — almost suspiciously — over his shoulder up the street.

“Mr. Grapa… when a building burns, the rats are always the first ones to flee. They swarm, seeking refuge in the first dirty corner they can find. I need to know where the rats have gone, and what sort of pestilence they may be bringing with them.” Carmine’s voice remains casual, but there’s no questioning the gravity. The Roman slides down across the smooth leather of the backseat.

He holds out his hand to stop Milos from shutting the door, looking up at The Bodyguard. “I require an audience with the rail gangs. Please see that Mr. Luka is extended an invitation first. It is time to tighten up Gotham, or we will have too many rats scurrying about.”

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