Playing With Fire

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Famous writer, Jackson Lyon, gets himself caught in the crossfires between a group of Prohibition agents and the country's most feared mobster- Nathaniel Squalonni. He hopes to hopes to observe the
raid of the mobsters brewery, but when things don't go as planned, Lyon must take action.

Submitted: November 04, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 04, 2017



 At the very moment the Tidal Wave Brewing Company was targeted–the moment when the thirty-plus agents inside were exposed to a threat whose magnitude they could not comprehend– the man in the car safely parked across the street was thinking about a nap.


He could only be described as ruggedly handsome, with dark hair and eyes, a square jaw, and fingertips callused from his daily exertions on the typewriter. He was settled in the passenger seat of the Handley-Knight 7-Sedan as his fingers flew across the keyboard of the Royal Neptune 8000 that had been gently stationed on his lap. A rakish sort, hefty, and jet-black, it had the initials J.L engraved on its posterior. In the last few years, the Royal Neptune 8000 had become the preferred writing instrument for the serious writer, replacing a variety of lesser competitors. Its operations were seemingly simple; however, to anyone unfamiliar with the art of writing– its keys would appear to be like Ancient Greek to a layman–but a seasoned writer could make it work like a maestro. Jackson Lyon made it sing better than most. He was legendary among fellow writers for composing a myriad of words into a rip-roaring thriller. In the worldwide community of authors, many of whom only knew each other from their stories, Lyon’s mystery thrillers earned him the nickname, "Master of the Macabre"- due to the authenticity of the grisly elements in his novels.  

Despite the fact that he was somewhat famous, Lyon ,a dark horse, left his secrets behind closed doors. Not a soul knew his recipe for a mouth-watering adventure; he had to keep it concealed from rival authors. Only a trusted consultant knew that his blueprint for success was drawing inspiration from real-life observations. From shadowing FBI agents to tailing NYPD murder investigations, Jackson never passed up on a chance at research in the name of getting the most realistic details for his next crime novel. 

This day was no different. His vehicle was strategically parked on East 60th Street, opposite from a run-down building known as the Tidal Wave Brewing Company. The establishment blemished the lavish neighborhood of the Upper East Side. It was shaped like a beehive with gaping hexagonal holes in the brown concrete walls, allowing the wintry breeze to flow in and out. Jackson’s eyes stung as he paused from his writing to look up at the eyesore. He wondered what the contents of the inside looked like. Would it be extremely appalling or surprisingly affable? The truth is you never know what’s behind a door.

Jackson Lyon pondered that before he decided on finding out. He set the Royal Neptune 8000 at his feet and slowly exited the Sedan. He did his best to be the embodiment of stealth. He was almost like the wind, there but forever unseen. Lyon studied the building for signs of alarm, and, seeing none, took in a deep breath to gather himself. He then performed a perfect cheetah sprint to the side of the brewery. 

He paused again, listening intently for even the slightest indication that anyone inside had become aware of his presence. There was none. The tempo of the early afternoon in this neighborhood was unchanged. Jackson proceeded to crouch down and shuffle along the rough surface of the brewery’s perimeter; he moved like an Arctic fox crossing tundra until his hand rested against the edge of the wall. 

Lyon allowed himself a quick glimpse around the corner. In front of the building were a few dozen uniformed men receiving orders from two older gentlemen. One was taller than the other; he had blonde hair blotched with streaks of smoky-gray, fat rolls of faded olive skin forming under his blood-flecked eyeballs, and he wore a crooked smile as his counterpart spoke. This man looked much more debonair- broad-shouldered, thick hair fashionably swept to the side, his chocolate skin glowed in the shimmering sunlight. Both men had identical revolvers securely stashed in a brown leather holster that was attached to their side, which made it all the more easy for Lyon to identify them; they were the reason he was here after all. These men were illustrious in the world of law enforcement; everyone knew the names Quentin Hallasoinan and Vernon Reynolds. They were the leaders of a reliable team of uncorrupted Prohibition agents called "the Patriots".  

Over the last few months, Reynolds and Hallasoinan’s team had caused major damage to the operations of New York’s most colossal boss of the waste management business–Nathaniel Squalonni. Squalonni was more of a name than a man- no-one who lived to see the light of day had ever seen him; which made it almost impossible for the Prohibition Bureau to take him down. According to various rumors, Squalonni was a self-proclaimed "businessman"; apparently, the Sicilian mobster immediately saw the potential windfall of Prohibition and decided on running bootleg alcohol as a business– bulldozing over anyone who got in his way. His infamy blossomed as the blood on his hands began dripping from his fingertips all over the country; he was known for wreaking havoc whenever the opportunity presented itself. Even the man’s name spoke to his nature: Squalonni is derived from squalo, the Italian word for shark. 

After months of trying to fish him out of hiding, the Patriots finally caught a break. Through an extensive wire-tapping operation, they were able to uncover the location of Squalonni’s top revenue source–the Tidal Wave Brewing Company. They had also received word that the mobster was harboring some kind of ruinous weapon in the brewery. The Patriots could not allow the most ruthless man in the country to have his hands on such a mechanism–it would be catastrophic.  

Lyon had been following their investigation for months in hopes of observing a situation like this- a real-life raid. It was not easy but he had an inside man within the Patriots keeping him posted. 

As he continued to peer from the corner of the building, the Patriots were just about to raid the brewery. There could be no mistakes now. He needed total covertness, and he was sure that he had accomplished that. Just a few more…

"Goddamnit, I see you there, boy,” a voice bellowed from afar.

Lyon felt his fingers tremble, his heartbeat booming in fear– it was Vernon Reynolds. The agent arrived in front of Lyon and grabbed him by the collar and aggressively pressed him up against the sturdy wall.

"I know who you are,” he sneered. "You’re that pesky writer, "Master of the Macabre"." 

"Yes, Sir," Lyon choked.

"Shut up," ordered the Prohibition agent, raising his fist so it was in Lyon’s face. “What are you doing here?” 

"I was hoping to observe you and your group for research,” he replied, trying not to give into the asphyxiation.

"This is no place for a writer,” Reynolds said, with a venomous glare. "You’ll get yourself killed one day if you keep poking in other people's affairs.”


"STAY OUT OF OUR BUSINESS AND LEAVE," he shouted at full fortissimo.

He released Jackson from his grip and watched as he dashed back to his car. The dark-skinned agent sauntered back to his group–making sure Lyon had departed. 

This wouldn’t stop Lyon from observing; he partially reclined his seat and looked on as The Patriots blindly stormed through the front door of the brewery. 

A few minutes thereafter, Lyon grew tired of lying in wait; he took in a heavy yawn, laid back, and shut his eyelids. However, his desire for a quick rest would be spoiled by the pandemonium that would ensue. A flashing crimson beam of light struck the Tidal Wave, causing it to erupt like volcano– it was instantly set ablaze. 

Lyon scurried out of his automobile and zoomed into the inferno like a jet. He was not trained for a situation like this, but he’d seen enough from personal studies. 

Suddenly, the raging fire vanished like a ghost, simultaneously as Lyon entered into all the chaos. How was this possible? The only thing left behind by the explosion was a pile of incinerated Prohibition agents. There was no-one else in the brewery. This was a setup, Lyon concluded; Squalonni must have known The Patriots were coming.

"What’s going on here, " the bewildered writer hollered aloud to the empty room. “Who did this? "

"You really haven’t figured it out," echoed a mysterious whisper.

Jackson Lyon spun around and out of the shadows stood a man with a crooked grin plastered to his wrinkled face- Quentin Hallasoinan. 

"You," Lyon gasped in awe. "Why would you betray your team?” 

my team. You see I lead a much different group–the Squalonni clan. But a mystery writer like yourself should have known that by now; just spell out my name. "

"Q-U-E-N-T-I-N H-A-L-L-A-S-O-I-N-A-N"  

"Very good," Quentin cackled. “Now–rearrange the letters." 

Jackson, a master of words, shuffled the letters around in his mind. 

"An anagram,” the novelist blurted. "No, that’s impossible! You can’t be the very same man who has been terrorizing this city." 

"The one and only," Squalonni chuckled slipping into an Italian-Brooklyn accent. "I needed to keep tabs on the investigation, and what better way to do so than by joinin’ up with the infamous Patriots and that clown Vernon Reynolds. I destroyed them with ease– thanks to a futuristic weapon that my boys have designed; it can release and absorb fire at the pull of a trigger. But before I finish you, I must ask, how in the world did you find this place? I made sure no-one tracked us throughout this investigation. "

"Inside-man," Jackson answered.

"You just couldn’t stay away,” the Shark continued, completely ignoring Lyon’s reply. "That cravin’ for more is gonna get you killed someday, kid. Shoulda left when you had the chance. Too bad this isn’t one of your novels- you can’t rewrite the endin’."

"But, wai-"

The remainder of the sentence never got out.

Squalonni yanked his revolver out of its holster, took aim at Lyon, and three bullets shot out in rapid succession. Ribbons of reddened blood flew across the room. He fell to his knees and then onto the floor. He never saw it coming.

Nathaniel Squalonni’s body was drowned in a pool of his own blood; standing over him with a gun in his firm grasp was– Vernon Reynolds. 

"Thank you–"inside-man”,” said Lyon, smiling at Reynolds. 

"Well we couldn’t have Squalonni running around town with a lethal weapon,” Reynolds replied, smiling back at his ally. "We make a pretty good team you and I, it would have been impossible to have taken Squalonni down without your help. But you should go home now and get some rest." 

Lyon nodded and proceeded to exit the building as police cars and ambulances began pouring into the street. He took one more long look at the brewery and smiled, before heading back to his car. Jackson crept open the door of this vehicle and sat down. However, he could never rest.  He grabbed his typewriterand startedwriting.


© Copyright 2019 Nick Rook. All rights reserved.

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