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The Man With a Grey Tie and a Golden Suit

A Short Story by


John, a middle aged white man with a rough dark black Van Dyke beard ,stared down the trash ridden streets of Hooverville pondering his place in society. It was November 28th, 1929, nine years into Prohibition. New York City showed no sign of night-life, nor trace of hope could. Black Tuesday had left John in a state of shock. Once a stockbroker before the gravest day in the U.S. economy’s history; John had owned a house, a car, had a family, and lived a lavish life under the comfort of other’s ignorance to the stock market. Then on that dreadful day - October 28th of 1929 - the stock market plummeted into the depths of oblivion; the largest crash in U.S. history.

It was the one month anniversary of the worst day of John’s life. As he sat outside his tent among the Hooverville shacks in New York City,  he dreamt of his old life and ways to achieve the same success as he once held. Some of John’s ideas were legal, some were not, some were inhumane, some were good, but importantly, some were plausible. John heard a sudden gunshot come from one of the tents .

John snapped out of his daydream, just as he was pondering the idea of running booze for the local mob. He got up and sprinted towards the noise of the shot; he sought danger, excitement, anything to escape the despair of his new life.

He arrived at The Tent, a mob-run a speakeasy in Hooverville, and entered. There was a man laying on the ground, blood oozing out of the wound to his bare chest. The hairs on his body were caked with dirt and blood. His deep, jet black hair, lay strewn across the floor. John looked up to see a man with a Colt 1908 silver hand gun, engraved with the Gagliano Family’s insignia. The man had dirty blonde hair and a handlebar mustache. His hair was combed back to accent his deep green eyes.

The man introduced himself as Joey Gagliano. He proposed to John two options: (1) be shot and killed for witnessing what Joey had just done, or (2)  join the Gagliano Family. John thought about the options as any reasonable man would; be in organized crime for the rest of his years, however short that may be, or be killed right then and there. His morals depleted by Prohibition and the Great Depression, John chose the latter. Joey welcomed John into the family and told him to show up at the docks tomorrow at 7 a.m. John walked back to his tent wondering if he should indeed show up to the docks tomorrow, after all, Joey did not know where John lived.

John’sconscience debated his desires. John craved the lavish lifestyle he once had. With that in mind, John decided to show up to the docks at 7 a.m. the next day. Once he arrived, he saw Joey and two other men, both with the same stupid comb-over and handle bar mustache as Joey. Then John saw him, the man, the man with the freckles and the light black hair. The man was tied up and kneeling on a tarp in front of Joey and his boys. Then it hit John, he was going to have to murder this man, this man with hair, and freckles, and pale white skin. Whilst saying no words the man to the right of Joey reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun, which he handed to John and nodded towards the man who was tied up and gagged. John said no words, took the gun, and shot the man two inches above the nose.

Joey handed him a piece of paper, then got into his car with the other mobsters and drove away. John stood there in awe of what he had just done. He stood there for the next twenty minutes, until realizing there was a dead man lying on a tarp in front of him, whom he just shot., He still had the gun, and he had not read the note yet. He gazed down and opened the note which was written on a cracked piece of paper in dark black ink. It read: Clean up. Keep the gun. Meet us here tomorrow. 6:00 a.m. John, having been a stockbroker in the past, had no idea what to do with a dead body. Eventually he rolled the body up in the tarp and dropped it off the docks. He spent the rest of the day internally discussing why he had done what he had done, and what he would do if they wanted him to do it again tomorrow. He determined he would do whatever he needed, regardless of the consequences, to get his old lifestyle back.

The next day he showed up at the docks and there they were again, except this time instead of a man, they had, what appeared to be a dead body soaked in water, rolled up in a tarp in front of them. John thought for a second what this might be implying. He considered the fact that they may want him to dispose of another body, then he came to a realization. That body, the one laying in front of him, was the same body that he threw into the river the previous day. Joey nodded towards the body, “we found this floating near the docks when we got here this mornin’.” John was riddled with panic, had someone else seen the body? or were the mobsters going to execute him for improperly disposing of it? “Relax man, were not gonna hurt you, that is, as long as no one saw it…,” Joey hinted mysteriously.


“Look man I realize I did a crummy job of disposing of this Yankee, but that don’t mean I don’t want to be in the mob anymore.” John nervously stated, “look, look, I’ll kill someone else, I’ll dispose of this body, proper and all.”

“John, John, John, that won’t be necessary, we will take care of the body, you just will have to do a favor for us in return.”

“Yeah? Yeah! Sure man! What do you need?” John exclaimed in a jitterish manner.

“I need you to kill Tommy Reina.”

Tommy Reina was the current head of the Gagliano Family mob. Having realized this, John had no idea what to say. He was still ravaged with guilt from the first man he shot, he wasn’t sure if he could carry out such a deed again, let alone murder the head of the Gagliano family. “Uh,” John at a loss for words paused to think. “Why would you want that?”

“Well you see John, I’m next in line for the - throne - shall we say.” Joey replied with angst.

“Oh, I, I guess I could do that for you.”

“You guess!?” Joey drew a rapid breath, “there’s no guessing in this matter John!”

“I’ll do it,” John gasped from the shock of his decision, “When… when do you want it done?”

“Two days ago John, two days ago.” Joey impatiently stated.

Joey threw a briefcase on the ground reluctantly and drove away. The briefcase contained $50,000, a Smith & Wesson M&P .38 caliber, an itinerary of Tommy Reina’s schedule for tomorrow, and a note that read ‘good luck. -JP’.  As it all began to sink in, what he had agreed to do, Joey began to worry. If he failed to assassinate Tommy Reina then Joey would murder him., If he was caught, he would be murdered by Tommy Reina’s men. The only option was to succeed in assassinating the head of the Gagliano Family Mob,  Tommy Reina.

After carefully inspecting Tommy’s itinerary, John decided the best course of action would be to shoot him while he was getting out of his lunch meeting at his favorite Italian restaurant, Marchi’s. The only problem would be the escape., n order to pull that off he will need some form of vehicle. He decided he would steal a taxi for the anonymity. John went to sleep dreading the next day.

As the sun rose, and Hooverville echoed with sorrow, John crawled out of bed with fright. He walked 13 miles to the taxi yard, in his brown, battered and soleless shoes. His feet began to blister as he grew closer and closer to the yard. John picked out one that appeared to be in good shape, stripped the ignition wires, and sparked them together. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Again. Finally, the car squeaked to life and John drove it out of the car yard and putzed towards Marchi’s Italian Restaurant.

John pulled in front of Marchi’s and waited until a quarter after noon. As Tommy stepped out of Marchi’s,  the sun glistened off his bare, shaven, pale head. The sound of the busy restaurant echoed through the empty, dirty streets of New York City. The time was now or never. John was torn with guilt; however the thirst for power drove him past the breaking point. John glanced at himself in the mirror one last time, face stricken with guilt. John aimed his Smith & Wesson .38 out of his rusted taxi’s window and pulled the steel, warn down trigger. The whole block rattled with the sound of a cannon, then the bullet tore through the leader of the Gagliano Family Mob’s jacket and blood spewed outward as he dropped to the ground. John drove away into the crisp noon air with a look of intense guilt and excitement scrawled across his face.

Tommy’s body rested on the cold, wet, asphalt, with blood draining from his open wound. His partners standing over him with their faces painted with shock. They began to discuss what this meant, for them and the rest of their family. Then Joey walked out of the restaurant, his face covered in a emotion of almost fake disbelief and pure joy.

“Hey Joey, how come Tommy was murdered and your lookin’ all happy over there.” One of Joey’s brother’s, Rob pondered.

“Happiness? Thats what you think this is! Tommy was like a brother to me! Just like all of you! Now who the hell could of done such a horrible act upon our fellow brother!” Joey yelled at his fellow brothers.

“Well I don’t know Joe,” Rob paused for a moment of thought. “I suppose the Maranzanos could of had something to do with this.”

“Yeah, it was probably them, with Tommy withdrawing from that deal and all.” Joey stated with hope that they would accept this as the real answer.

“Definitely Joe! I’ll tell you what we gotta get them back somehow” Rob stated out of anger. “Ain’t no way they can just kill Tommy and get off scot-free!”

“YEAH!” the two other brothers yelled in agreement with Rob.

“Alright, first thing tomorrow we start thinkin’ something up to get’em back!” Joey exclaimed, secretly  sighing eith relief.

“YEAH!” Rob and the two other brothers screamed together.

John arrived at his apartment later that night, filled with excitement about what this meant for his status with the Gaglianos. He was still ridden with guilt that was left over from the first man he killed, and partially due to how he killed Tommy in cold blood for self-benefit. John drifted off to sleep that night dreaming off the riches he would reap from Joey as payment for his success.

John woke to a mysterious man entering his tent in Hooverville. Joey, still groggy from his slumber, thought the man was showing him a double barreled shotgun with the Gagliano insignia. He considered why he was showing this to him at this ungodly hour, but he figured it was just a thankyou gift from Joey.

The man began to raise both shotgun barrels towards John’s face he stated, “sorry Johny boy, but no one can know of what I had you do”. The double blast of the shotgun shook the tents of Hooverville. The shotgun shells split into their even 12 ball pattern and penetrated John’s skull and upper, newly shaven chest. He was torn to shreds from the power of the blast, 24 pieces of metal digging into him, blood erupting from his body. He fell to the ground as blood continued to gush out of his many wounds. The man exited the tent and left John’s cold, wet body to lie for eternity in Hooverville.


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"Prohibition in the Progressive Era - American Memory Timeline- Classroom Presentation | Teacher Resources - Library of Congress." Prohibition in the Progressive Era - American Memory Timeline- Classroom Presentation | Teacher Resources - Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.


"600% Rise in Alcoholism." Pro Quest. New York Times, 29 Jan. 1930. Web. 27 Feb. 2015.

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