DRIVE – The Volunteers Trilogy
by JOHN NUCKEL
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how a strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”
October 18, 1899 – 3 a.m.
McSorley’s Ale House
7th Street, New York City
Captain Woodbury Kane waited outside of McSorley’s Ale house. It was a particularly gloomy early morning, the sky shrouded in a cold mist. The moisture from his overcoat and hat seemed to seep into his bones. He shivered once and stepped out of his carriage.
He was waiting for Ward Boss Delvin Costello to exit the bar. Kane took position in front of the carriage and listened as the singing inside the establishment died down. It wouldn’t be long. Kane stood erect, lifted his Homburg from his head, and then put it back on, signaling to a man from a doorway to the left and another from the right to step out of the shadows onto East 7th Street. They walked slowly toward the entrance of the pub with side arms drawn and held low at their sides.
As expected, Costello’s hired men emerged from McSorley’s first. Two Irish boxers, both drunk and bloated. Ten years past their fighting trim. They were no more than brawlers now, deputized by Tammany Hall to break the noses of Costello’s late payers. Kane’s men approached from either side and drew their guns to the brawler’s heads. Kane walked forward.
“We’re here for Costello. We have no claim against you. Raise your hands, step to the side, and let him out.”
The brawlers took a second to consider their situation. In unison, they raised their arms above their heads. The man on the right was so drunk the movement almost toppled him.
Costello swung the door open and stumbled forward in a drunken dance step, almost falling directly into Kane’s arms. He righted himself and looked up at Kane.
“Do I know you?’
Kane squared his feet and prepared for confrontation.
“We’ve met. Last week at the beer hall on 22nd Street. You laughed at me.”
Kane’s face was rigid with disdain.
Costello was full up with ale. He wavered on his feet.
“I don’t remember.”
“No matter. You’re coming with me.” Kane grabbed him by the arm and swung him around so his arm was locked up behind him. He pushed the arm upward, and Costello yelped in pain.
“Your boys can’t help you, Costello. Can you, boys?”
Kane pushed the arm up farther. Not breaking it just yet. Although he felt a powerful urge to do so.
Costello sobered up quickly and shouted at his brawlers, “What are you doing?”
Kane looked to his men. “Let them go.”
Kane’s men dropped their guns and shoved the brawlers in the back.
Kane released Costello and turned to the brawlers.
“Go. Go ahead.”
The men were confused.
Kane walked over to them, ignoring Costello for the moment.
“My name is Captain Woodbury Kane. First Volunteer Cavalry, Rough Riders unit. I’m remanding this man, Ward Boss Delvin Costello, for the crimes of rape and murder of two innocent young women. You can walk away or come with him. Makes no difference to me.”
Costello made a move to run. Kane pulled a sap out of his pocket and, without turning fully, landed a blow squarely on his temple. Costello collapsed. His knees hit the sidewalk first, then he toppled over onto his right side.
One of the brawlers raised up. Kane’s man lifted this gun, but Kane waved him away. He walked closer to the brawler. The man stunk of ale, onions, and eggs. Kane stared him down.
“I want to you tell your people about this. Tell them who I am.”
The other brawler spoke.
“I know who you are. Captain Woodbury Kane. I know. Please sir, we’re only doing our job. I have a family.”
Kane backed away from the confrontation. “Well, go then. Go. If I see you again, you’ll be with this miscreant. That’s not a place you want to be, believe me. Go!”
The man who spoke turned and sprinted down 7th Street. The man with the egg breath seemed confused and stood still. Kane’s man shoved the brawler to get him started. After a stumble, he started trotting down 7th in the other direction. Kane’s men walked over to Costello and lifted him into the carriage.
MORE FROM JOHN NUCKEL