“The New Mob”
by Horace P. Sternwall
Originally published in “Today’s Crime Stories”, December, 1950; reprinted for the first time ever in book form in “You Know What My Auntie Margaret Always Says”: The “Gwendolyn and Auntie Margaret” Stories of Horace P. Sternwall, Vol. 9, the Olney Community College Press; edited by Dan Leo, LL.D., Assistant Professor of Populist American Literature, Olney Community College.
Original illustrations by rhoda penmarq for penmarqonomiqal™ productions, ltd.
(Click here to read the previous Gwendolyn story; go here to return to the very beginning of the saga.)
“So what did you find out?” said Big Bart.
“Niente, boss. Zilch. Nada.”
“Speak American, goddammit.”
“Nothing,” said Bartolomeo “Big Bart” Baccini.
“Yep, nuttin’,” said Luigi.
“Not nuttin’,” said Big Bart. “Nothing.”
“That’s what I said, boss. Nuttin’.”
Big Bart sighed.
“Repeat after me, Luigi: ‘nuh’.”
“Nuh,” said Luigi.
“Now say ‘thing’.”
“Thing,” said Luigi.
“Okay, now put ‘em together and say ‘nothing’.”
“You want me to say nuttin’?”
“No, I don’t want you to say ‘nuttin’’. I want you to say ‘nothing’.”
“I don’t get it, boss. You want me to clam up, I’ll clam up.”
Big Bart sighed.
“Okay, forget it. Just tell me anything you found out about this new mob, anything at all.”
“Nuttin’,” said Luigi.
“Nuttin’?” said Big Bart. “I mean nothing at all?”
“Just what we already knew, boss. Just that they firebombed Jimmy Mazzaro and his boys, and as best we can like specalate, probly on account of Jimmy rubbin’ out Tommy Sullivan.”
“But it wasn’t any of Tommy’s friends who did it?”
“Nobody knows, boss. If it was any of Tommy’s pals they ain’t braggin’ about it.”
“And it ain’t like one of them micks to take out five dago wiseguys and not brag about it.”
“Micks like to brag, that’s true, boss.”
“And no connection to Jackie O’Hara’s mob, or Maxie Goldenberg, the Five Points boys, the Yancy Street Gang?”
“Like I said, boss: nuttin’.”
“Then who are they?” said Big Bart. “And who’s this ‘Mrs. Big’?”
“Yes, I know it’s some dame, but who is she, who’s she workin’ for?”
“Maybe she ain’t workin’ for nobody,” said Luigi.
“What, a dame runnin’ her own mob? There ain’t never been a dame runnin’ her own mob.”
“Well, I don’t know, boss,” said Luigi.
“What don’t you know, Luigi?”
“Well – what about Queen Elizabeth?”
“Queen Elizabeth. The Queen of England that Bette Davis was in that movie. With Erroll Flynn.”
“Queen Elizabeth,” said Big Bart.
“Yeah,” said Luigi. “She was like the boss of her own mob, right? Except her mob was a whole country. England.”
Big Bart didn’t say anything.
“I’m just sayin’,” said Luigi.
Still Big Bart said nothing.
“You want me to go now, boss?” said Luigi.
Big Bart said nothing. He just smoked his cigar and stared out the window.
“Okay, I’ll go now, boss,” said Luigi. “I hear anything else about this new mob I’ll let you know, right away.”
Luigi backed out the door of the office and closed the door, gently.
From her bedroom window in her Auntie Margaret’s suite in the venerable Hotel St Crispian a twelve-year-old girl named Gwendolyn gazed out at the twinkling nighttime skyline of New York City.
“Greenwich Village and the Bowery are now ours, Marie-France,” she said. “Or at any rate the marijuana trade in those two districts are now ours. It’s true, we shall have to find replacements for those two idiotic grown-ups, ‘Sniffy’ and ‘Rooster’. After the beating they received from Jimmy Mazzaro’s goons they lost their nerve. But do you know what? Good riddance I say. From now on the people I recruit for our gang will be made of sterner stuff. And I will find them, you mark my words.
“But this – all this is only the beginning. Look at that great city, Marie-France! A city ripe for the taking. And do you know what? If all goes well I shall retire by my eighteenth birthday, perhaps just around the time I graduate from Miss Churchill’s. And then I shall buy a house in the country, a great big house with land and horses, and I will move Auntie Margaret and her friends Pierre and Serge in there, perhaps also my little friend Pippi, and, of course – fear not – you as well, chère Marie-France. And we shall live as country squires and ladies.
“What’s that, ma chérie? Won’t I find country life a bit shall we say ennuyeuse? Perhaps, my dear, perhaps. On se sait jamais ce que demain peut t’apporter. But we shall worry about that when the time comes, if it comes. For now, it’s time for bed. We have a big day tomorrow. I give my presentation for Miss Barlowe’s Civics class on the ancient city-state of Sparta, and then after school I interview a new candidate for the gang, this older boy from the Falworthy School, a likely lad I’ve had my eye on. Tall enough to pass for a grown-up, quite well-spoken, and he has just gotten his driver’s license.”
Marie-France, being a doll, albeit a very life-like doll, of course said nothing to this, at least nothing anyone but Gwendolyn could hear. Gwendolyn turned out the light, got in bed, kissed Marie-France on the cheek, and, soon, she was fast asleep.
(This is a slightly revised version of a story that originally appeared, with artwork by the amazing rhoda penmarq, in New Tales of the Hotel St Crispian.)
(Our editorial staff has taken another week off to work on the editing of the first volume of Arnold Schnabel’s Railroad Train to Heaven™, which we hope to bring out this year as an e-book and maybe even a book made out of paper. An all-new thrilling episode of Arnold’s epic will appear here next Saturday!)