Knock Knock: Episode 34: Whiskey Town


Buddy had returned to Owen Estate at The Cappy’s request.

The den seemed less closed off that day. It was unlike Chick to keep the door open when he was in but that day it was ajar. He was standing with his back turned to him. He was observing the various other family heirlooms. 

“You wanted to see me?” Buddy asked nervously. 

The Cappy turned. 

“The agents …” he began. 

Buddy took a deep breath. 

“I’ve had every agent from here to home fight tooth and nail to bring that compass back to me.” 

Buddy sighed with relief. He had meant acquisitions agents. Buddy looked to the space that was supposed to have been filled with the compass.

“I guess sometimes no matter how hard you fight you will always come to losses. Those losses can be great but we carry on. 

He stopped. He narrowed his gaze on his son. 

“Are you alright, boy?” 

Buddy nodded. A sweat was beginning to break on his forehead. 

“Losses and shit,” Buddy repeated. 

The Cappy growled. 

“Are you on powda’?” he asked. 

Buddy shook his head. Truthfully he was sober. His current situation would be a whole lot easier if he weren’t. 

“As I said, we all have our losses,” The Cappy went on “It’s the prickly nature of the competition. We are Owens and we always succeed, even if it takes generations. That is what being a dynasty is all about. That spot on that there wall perhaps wasn’t meant for something from our past. Maybe it stays open for the future. Which brings me to you.” 

Buddy clamped his mouth closed. 

“We’ve had our differences. We’ve had our problems. You were always closer to your mama but I’m to blame for that. I wasn’t there for you as often as I should have been. I had been too focused on taking our family forward. You were left behind with Jerry to teach you. I hoped you would follow my example but I realise now an example could only be set if I were there for you. You grew up to be a lot like Jerry and that’s my own fault. Times are changing. Times are going to get harder. We need to stick together and be on our A game. Can I trust you with that?”

Buddy nodded. The Cappy came from behind his desk and approached him. Buddy flinched as he put his arm out but Chick clasped his son with a grip behind his neck. 

“You are my boy, Buddy. I will do anything for you. A dynasty is carried forward not backwards. Make me proud. Leave stories for our future generations to tell. 

Buddy sighed. “I’m sorry the dragon lady smashed your compass.” 

Chick’s lips traced a smile. “As am I son. As am I.” 

Buddy couldn’t think of what else to say. He asked, “are you okay?” 

Chick’s smile spread. “I will be,” he said. 

Buddy flinched again as The Cappy pulled him closer but it was into an embrace with some warm pats on his back. 

“I love you, son.” 

These were words Buddy had never heard from The Cappy before. Mama said it all the time but she it to everyone. The Cappy on the other hand? He had probably never uttered the words before. Come to think of it Buddy had never said those words to anyone either. How does a bro respond to something like that? Luckily he didn’t have to 

The Cappy smiled again. 

“Besides, we still have the golden asset at the Chapter House. I’m going to have to lean on the Fullertons to make sure that site is cleared and returned to us.” 

“Sure,” Buddy agreed. 

“Alright, go,” he said. “Close the door behind ya.” 

Buddy pulled the den door closed. 

“What the fuck?” he muttered to himself.

***

***

There was an icy wind dancing across Owen Estate. It was time for Betsy to breathe some air. She felt snug, like an enthusiatic lover against The Cappy’s shoulder.

Van Holder watched as Chick took aim. The target cracked at Betsy’s bite. Van Holder applauded.

“Good shot,” he said.

“Are you a marksman yourself?” he asked.

Van Holder raised his chin as he took a better look at the target.

“Guns have uses but I’m more of a hands on man myself.”

Chick laughed. “That’s why I like. It’s good to let your hands get dirty from time to time.”

Van Holder agreed.

“I hear a lot of noise coming from our warehouses. I trust the investment is being put to good use?”

Van Holder’s lips traced a smile.

“Why don’t you come take a look.”

The Cappy gave Betsy to an assistant to be taken back inside. The warmth of Betsy’s body showed she was eager for more but that would have to wait. The two made their way to a warehouse on the Kingsgate Campus that Chick Owen had given for their purposes. When the warehouse doors were pulled open that he was not disappointed.

Hundreds of Black Band appointees were busy building a weapon of the most destructive kind. It would be fatal where necessary and unstoppable. Attention was being paid to a large cow catcher from an old locomotive. Thousands of pounds of power it held. There was not a wall in Coldford that could hold it back.

“Is this the weapon used in Kimaro?” The Cappy asked.

“It had to be brought in for parts. Assembly is taking time,” Van Holder explained.

The device that was used to make a King in Subala take to his knees and weep was but a prototype for what they had before them now.

Charles ‘Chick’ Owen was impressed. Van Holder was only too keen to display their success.

“With your generosity I will be able to make the upgrades we need to tackle the current problem.”

The Black Bands continued to busy themselves with assembly.

Both The Cappy and Van Holder looked at the weapon with admiration.

“She is mighty impressive,” stated Chick Owen.

“She’s called Game Changer,” Van Holder explained.

Chick grinned. “I do believe it is time for the game to change.”

***

Dan had set up the projector in the Filton Press archive room.

The old video played. It displayed shaky and grainy images of Old Bellfield over the last century, you to Brendan Mack as a young man when he took over. He was without his wheelchair then, standing tall and proud with his two elder sons, Paddy and Kieran. Paddy looked a lot like his father.

What interested me the most was the great wars of last century when the Distillery gates had been last closed. Those walls were built to last.

The distillery had originally been gas works. The great wars brought about a ban on alcohol. There were riots and more violence as a result. Sean Mack who worked for the gas works at the time used a small shed on the site to brew his own booze. When the owner of the gas works discovered what he was doing he was delighted. Soon Sean was brewing booze for the entire city. He brought his sons Darragh and Callum in to help. On the grounds of the gas works began Mack and Sons distillery. The gates were closed to keep the authorities from ousting the booze runners.

Stubbon and refusing to move, the distillery built itself around the gas works, becoming the Bellfield monumental structure we know today. Generations passed but those gates still stood strong.

***

The bells started to ring. Brendan Mack and his brother Alan made their way to the gates. Alan was pushing Brendan’s chair.

The entrance created during the dry days of last century I previously discussed to allow the collection of bootleg booze were still there. Only one of their own would know of it. When Brendan and Alan arrived on scene Paddy and Kieran were being greeted by their workers.

“The scoundrels return!” they cheered.

Paddy was being clapped proudly on the back by some of the workers. Kieran was busy retelling their tales of heroism to the workers when Paddy spotted their father. He went to meet him. He wrapped his arms around him and squeezed him tight.

“You look good,” said Brendan holding back emotion.

“Born this good looking is a curse,” Kieran cheered pushing Paddy aside to hug Brendan too

“We had to pull back,” Paddy explained to the reigning Mack Boss. “We were making our way round to Cooper Garages in Reginald Penn was determined to head to City Main. We would have been crushed. I tried to warn him.”

“I heard what happened to Reggie,” said Brendan. “It’d be hard not to do the same if it were on of me own. It leaves us vulnerable though. Did you find anything on Tawny?” he asked with a little hope.

Paddy shook his head. “No,” he admitted. “Sorry.”

Brendan sighed.

“We’ll have to give some thought to our next move but the boys are raring to go.”

Paddy took over the pushing of Brendan’s wheelchair. They passed through the distillery’s main body. Cheers rang out when the saw Paddy home again. The tables had been turned and the distillery equipment was replaced by weaponry. When the distillery gates opened again they would be ready.

“We’re at war lads!” Paddy called to them as he pushed his father down the main aisle, flanked by Alan and Kieran. Cheers were the response.

“Are ye ready!?” Paddy called.

“I said, are you feckin’ ready!?”

The cheers grew louder. The spirit of the distillery was alive. It was boiling over. It was unaware of the danger that rumbled down Love Street towards it.

Kaboom!

***

“The Mack and Sons distillery was brought to ruin earlier today in a Law Maker sanctioned raid as the terrorist group faced off with the Black Bands of Subala. Forty three Mack workers died in the attack as they tried to open fire on the Black Bands. Mack and Sons leader, Brendan Mack, was shot trying to take aim. It is believed that sons Patrick and Kieran escaped and are now concealed somewhere within Bellfield. The distillery has been officially seized and the search for the fugitives continues. I’m Sandra Wake of Coldford Daily news.”

***

With help from the Bellfield natives, Paddy and Kieran had managed to escape the devastation at the distillery. They split just after love street. Paddy slipped into a house neary. He took a deep breath.

“I should ask why you’re breaking and entering but given the noise from the distillery the situation explains itself.”

“I’m sorry, Mrs Shepherd,” Paddy replied boyishly, recognising the old councillor for the Bellfield community. “I didn’t want to bring trouble to your door.”

“And yet here you are,” she replied. “Sit Patrick but wipe your feet first. I don’t want you trailing my garden across the floor.”

Paddy obeyed and he took a seat at a small wooden kitchen table. Mrs Shepherd began to brew tea.

“There’s no use going anywhere now,” she said. “You might as well have a cup of tea and wait for things to blow over.”

“I’m fine,” he said.

The old counsellor turned to him with a raised eyebrow. “It’s non optional.”

She made two cups of tea and brought them to the table.

“You’ve always been a troublesome one, Patrick,” she said. “But you’re a good boy really.”

Mrs Shepherd had seen all the Macks grow up. As a counsellor they had been both help and hinderance to her. She knew Tawny well too having met her through Brendan. They had a shared interest in helping the community.

As boys, Paddy and Kieran had spray painted all over the Love Street park. It was she who had marched the boys back and have them repaint it.

“That’s what ye get for being eejits,” Brendan had said when they returned covered in green paint.

“I’ll wring their necks,” Annie Mack had promised. A promise delivered – at least on Kieran.

Mrs Shepherd had also been there to witness Paddy being prepared to take over the distillery. He was cheeky but he had a lot of the Mack endurance.

“I’ll be gone as soon as I can,” Paddy promised.

“That you will,” Mrs Shepherd agreed. “But I wouldn’t forgive myself if I sent you out in that mess.”

Whilst the Black Bands maintained their focus on the distillery, CPD were moving in to catch any who may have ran.

Mrs Shepherd clutched the Albans beads around her neck. They could both hear voices out in the street. There were shouting in Bellfield accents. Paddy hoped Kieran had managed to stay safe. He hoped those left behind at the distillery had survived at least.

The table shuddered as an explosion rattled down Love Street.

Mrs Shepherd took a deep breath. She clutched her beads tighter.

Knock knock.

There was a bang on the door. Paddy stood. Mrs Shepherd stood too.

“Stay here,” she said

She went to answer the door and Paddy crossed to the kitchen drawer. He removed a knife. He hid himself behind the kitchen counter and listened as Mrs Shepherd answered to the caller.

“Roger Kramer, CPD,” he said. “This is Peter Finnegan. We’re looking for Patrick and Kieran Mack. Have you seen them?”

Mrs Shepherd closed the door over slightly but slowly so as not to be suspicious.

“I haven’t seen anything,” she replied. “I had to turn off the television with all that noise down at the distillery.”

Finnegan looked her. Mrs Shepherd closed the door over a little more.

“Can we come in and take a look around?” asked Roger.

“Do you have a warrant to search my property?” she asked. She knew they didn’t.

“We have been authorised to use force if necessary but we’d rather you cooperate,” she was warned.

“Maybe rather than hassling old women and the Mack boys you should do your job and go check out that pervert down Dalley Street that sells drugs to all the weans!”

Mrs Shepherd’s neighbour had come out and was leaning on her balcony.

“It’s fine, Josie,” said Mrs Shepherd. “They were just leaving.”

Roger and Finnegan stayed their ground. The neighbourhood didn’t much appreciate the officer’s presence. They were being scowled at. It was said among CPD and most of Greater Coldford that Bellfield should be fenced off and allowed to police themselves.

“I told you I haven’t seen anyone. I do, however, believe that some of the young ones are unscrewing the wheels of your car,” said Mrs Shepherd.

Roger looked back. “You little bastards!” he yelled.

A group of kids aged around eight scattered. The CPD officers charged towards the car. When they climbed inside the young Bellfield Fleet began to throw stones at them. The officers pursued them towards the Dalley street exit towards Coldford City.

Paddy was at Mrs Shepherd’s back.

“Thank you,” he said gratefully.

“Get out of here Patrick,” she warned but she smiled and hugged him.

“Are ya gonna move!” a voice called from across the street.

Kieran waved his brother towards him.

When Paddy joined Kieran on the boys antagonising the police came running back towards them.

“They went away in their motor,” he announced proudly.

“Good job,” Keiran said , patting the boy’s shoulder.

The three started to make their way briskly to the quieter part of Bellfield to regroup.

The boy explained, “me and my old fella are going to go down to the distillery. We’ll let you know what’s happening.”

“Thanks,” said Paddy with genuine gratitude. “Just don’t go anywhere near the Black Bands. They’re not like CPD.”

Love Street had quietened but it would hear a great noise again.


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