Falcone’s Manor House was located in a large parcel of land at the skirts of Gotham City. It was a big, classical construction from around the mid 1800’s. Rumors said that before The Falcones had come to own it, it had belonged to a german american family, whom after their winery went bankrupt had fled back to west Europe. And by rumors, detective Jim Gordon mostly referred to his ex-partner Harvey Bullock’s drunk chattering. He recalled the occasion well enough. It had been in a rainy afternoon, a couple of months before his friend deserted the force; his beard had been wet on beer, his eyes glassy for the effects of alcohol. So if this story was beyond being a simple street gossip, the detective could not know for sure. The house, however, did seemed like something popped out of an old victorian novel. With pools, horse stables, kilometers of trees and bushes, even a small chicken’s barn, not far away from the main building. However, he supposed those were the things you could buy, when you had such scandalous quantity of money.
Jim Gordon lit a cigarette and carried it to his lips with hassle. If he was lucky, it might warm him up a little. This month had been especially cold and glancing at the sky, he was almost thankful that there wasn’t any sign of rain. He was standing not far away from the Falcone Manor, leaning against his patrol car. The Old Don was hosting a big party tonight, which in itself wasn’t too strange. Fests, galas and charity events were carried out in here as common thing. This being said, today was something slightly different. Today was a special occasion. Don Falcone’s birthday number sixty-five, the detective thought with cynicism. Only them get to live that long.
He sighed, letting out a cloud of grey smoke. Right now he was supposed to be off duty, still he rarely took any nights off. From here, he could see the electrified fence that surrounded the whole property. In the entrance two guards, big and of broad shoulders, were watching over. They were young, of Italian features, and in their hips, they both carried what looked like some kind of medium gauge guns. Probably nine millimeters. The detective was starting to meditate his chances of sneaking in the property without been noticed, when he heard the sound of the van approaching. It was white and big, with a striking logo printed on its doors. It parked just in front of the fence. After recognizing it, the detective could not avoid a smirk.
The thin short woman who got out of the vehicle was someone he knew quite well. It was a reporter from GNN. They had meet long ago, in circumstances he would rather not speak about. From his spot, he saw her approaching to the guards and behind her, her broadcasting team followed. This made Jim stand up from his patrols bumper, watching more carefully. He knew this woman to be purposeful, sometimes even risky. A quarrel wouldn’t make itself wait for long if she got insisting.
‘I’m covering tonight’s event, Sir,’ she heard her saying, handing the guards her channels ID while she pointed out at the van’s logo. ‘You have to let my team in!’
‘I cannot do that, ma’am,’ one of them told her, exchanging an annoyed look with his partner. ‘Gotta show your invitation.’
Earlier that night, they had probably dealt with many others like her, journalist and news tellers, all thirsty for cover the party that had been the month’s headline in every paper and news channel.
‘I don’t care about invitations,’ Valerie snapped. ‘I am a member of the press and I have every right to enter this place!’ The strength of her tone was intimidating for a woman, however, the two men, pretty much uninterested in all of her First Amendment chatter, did not seem to hear a word.
‘Listen, Miss…,’ the other guard told her, giving a step forward. He had probably aimed for her to retreat, yet at his nearness, she did not show any kind of agitation. This probably annoyed him, as the next time he talk he did so louder, almost growling. ‘It’s better for you to leave if you don’t want any trouble.’
Jim Gordon huffed, throwing away to the ground the remains of his cigarette. Vale will gain nothing from this, and it was a wonder why she even bothered at all. Perhaps she was just as stubborn as he was. Jim searched on his pocket for his police bag, making sure it was visible at plain sight. This probably was not a good idea. Still, what else could he do? He started a quiet pace towards the gates, passing thought the news team. When the guards caught a first glimpse of him, they went immediately still, holding their guns closer to their chests.
‘It’s all right, guys,’ he said with easiness, hoping to sound as natural as possible. As for Vale, he could said it had took a moment for her to recognize him. He could not but wonder if he had truly changed that much since the last time their paths crossed. ‘Ms. Vale was already leaving, wasn’t she?’
The reporter’s delicate features contorted unpleasantly at his words. And when he landed a familiar hand upon one of her shoulders, the woman’s immediate response was to shake it off. ‘No, I’m not!’ she said, stepping away from Jim’s touch with no hesitation ‘I have every right to be here!’ But the detective paid little attention to her, roughly taking her arm once again. Both of the guards send them wary looks and Jim begged, tugging a complicit smile across his face, to for once not been recognized for the newspapers. Then it happened. One of the guards lowered his gaze, and found the golden bag shinning on his hip. He catch the wink and laughed, a stupid smile forming across his face. ‘Sure, officer,’ he said ‘You handle this if you want to.’
‘I will,’ he said tilting his head. He grabbed Valerie’s arm even stronger and took her back to her gun, making what was possible to ignore the repeated curses she murmured. Only when they got out of the guards camp of vision he allowed himself to let her go. She backed off immediately.
‘Don’t you think you’ll get away with that, Gordon,’ was the first thing she said. ‘You won’t keep me from getting my story. Not this time.’
Little wrinkles had formed around her eyes and mouth, her thin red lips pursued in irritation. He could tell she was furious.
Jim let out a brief laugh. He certainly wasn’t trying to. Yet to be believed as a part of The Falcone’s payroll wouldn’t be too bad it if helped him entering the party. ‘Quit it, Vale,’ he said. ‘You know you wouldn’t have been able to pass thought that door.’
At this response, Valerie seemed even angrier. ‘Just wait and see,’ she said, turning around again towards her broadcasting team and heading towards the minivan. Jim could see her marking a telephone number just before closing the vehicle door. He almost felt bad then. He knew she held some passion over her work that resembled his, although he had never been too fond of acknowledging it. Still, he would not have apologized. He turned away towards the guards once again. He now felt himself confident enough to been able to sneak in. They now thought him as a part of their team. He just had to use the proper words, and after a quick talk, he would know everything he needed to know.
Jim could see the large grilles that surrounded the yards of the Manor. Beyond them, large trees and bushes spread across the entire area. He also could see a curved road that, he supposed, leaded towards the main house. After a brief talk with the guards that, between other things, had made him aware of the many vigilance spots spread across the yards, Jim had been quietly wandering around the fence. The slight gilt he had felt over his doing with Valerie Vale had disappeared, and now his only preoccupation was to find a way of getting in. It was then, walking around the place, when Jim noticed the car. A large silver car coming out from the Mansion and heading towards the gates. Jim glanced to his watch. Barely 2:30 am. A little early to be on the leave of a party hosted by the Falcones. He tried to look at the license plate, but soon the car was lost to his view.
He clicked his tongue, disappointed, and kept on his walk. Examining the field, he spotted many guards patrolling the area and at the beginning, it was difficult for him to find a blind spot. However, when he did, he thought it was almost too perfect. It was a small place beneath a set of threes, which helped by the night darkness, obscured the zone well enough for the guards not to see. Jim smirked, knowing that if he was going to try this he had to be extremely careful. Yet he was known in the station for taking high risks and this was a part of himself that he had really come to embrace in the late times.
Jim made sure that no one was able to see him before starting on climbing up the fence. It wasn’t dangerously high – not at least for an ex scout like him. Yet at the end of it, he could see a barbed wire, probably electrified, that once he was at the top, made hesitation grow on him. Only then he realized the fence was taller than he had assumed and he wondered if he would be able to trespass it. He was starting to think he should let go when he saw a three branch leaning right above the electric wire. Probably someone had forgotten to prune it so it had grown long enough to reach the fence. And to whoever this someone was, Jim was deeply grateful.
When he took the branch, he briefly glanced down towards the other side of the grills. The hesitation he had felt a moment before intensified for a second, just before completely fade. This wasn’t the moment. If he was to fall, breaking a leg or an arm in the process, so be it, at least he would have tried. The detective stood up in the higher part of the fence, taking support on the branch not to fall backwards. He breathed deeply. And then jumped.
Jim landed on his feet and hands. The impact, less painful than he anticipated, left a slight itch spreading thought his calves, yet other than that, he seemed to be fine. He stood up, checking around for anyone that could have seen him, but saw no one at the distance. ‘Good,’ he murmured, allowing a sigh to escape his mouth.
Jim made his path thought the yards as silently as he could, avoiding the guarded spots he had seen across the fence. He had adjusted his trench coat around himself, sticking up to the more forested areas until there were no bushes left ahead of him. The place was emptier than he had expected and not seeing any guards across what was left of the road, he almost thought himself too lucky. From here, he could see the back of the main building. Up in the terrace music was been played. He sighed. He hadn’t really break in here having much of an elaborated plan. A part of him had believed that he would be caught way before reaching the parking. But he couldn’t back off now. All of the Bosses of Gotham’s underbelly were gathered in here. Confident, reliant on the power of his host, too trustful to think anything could happen to them inside Don Falcone’s house. And he had to take advantage of that.
Jim Gordon was a man prone to get himself into trouble. He was a risk taker, always ready to intervene in where his station partners weren’t, never willing to give up the fight. Those at least, where the ways in which he wanted to see himself. And this was what usually drove him to these kinds of situations. He had some idea of whom Falcone’s affiliates where and what kind of business they run. He knew that doing this would probably bring him nothing good. Yet he did not doubt while taking his notebook in hand to start on writing down all of the license plate numbers of the cars in the parking.
He knew he had little time. Incompetent as thugs used to be, it was relatively easy to outwit them. Yet he would be surprised if Falcone did not kept any cameras around the Major. And if it was like that, it wouldn’t be long until someone was send to take care of him. After some ten minutes, he had already checked most of the vehicles. Some of them rented cars that he knew would lead him nowhere to which he paid little attention. There were also many with license plates of Gotham City, and he wrote them down just in case he was lucky enough to track them. Yet the ones that truly caught his attentions where the ones from out town. New Jersey, Massachusetts, a couple of ones from Connecticut.
And there was also that one.
A white sport car at the end of the parking with license plates of Chicago. He could say it was expensive, and was so shiny and clean for him to believe that it had been bought precisely for the occasion. He was reaching for his pen to write down the license number, when a thick almost friendly voice behind his back made him go still.
‘Jim, didn’t knew you were on the guest list.’
Jim swallowed a growl, letting his shoulders fall in resignation. When he turned around, he found the known figure of a big caucasian man, who was smiling at him with a strange cordiality. Along his side, they were also four young men.
‘Hi, Butch,’ he said. ‘How’ve you been?’
Catch him Jim heard Gilzean saying. And quickly found himself cornered against the hood of a car. The four boys were at most twenty years, some of them still even had traces of childhood written on their faces. Yet Jim knew better than to overestimate them; if Mooney had took them under her wing, that meant they had earned it. Killing would be no trouble for them. Outnumbered, Jim didn’t resist when they grabbed him by wrist and shoulders. Neither complain when they smashed him against the hood of the vehicle. He was probably bleeding, he realized passing his tongue across his teeth. Still, when across his men he saw Gilzean’s chubby face, he forced himself to smile from ear to ear.
‘So, Butch,’ he said. ‘You do Falcone’s dirty work now, ah?
‘Not quite,’ the big man responded. ‘I was just here in the right moment.’
‘Don’t you say,’ Jim murmured with a sarcastic huff. Immediately he felt his head been pushed harder into the metal. He knew it was useless to provoke them, yet staying quiet and accepting the beat wasn’t something he enjoyed. On his experience, the first punch was usually the hardest one to take. The rest, thought, it was quite easy. He had been beaten many times on his life and new that the best thing to do was to endure the first two of three strikes and then, if the moment was right, to unexpectedly return the punch.
So Jim closed his eyes, expecting for Butch’s order. He waited one, two, three seconds, yet none a word came. Suddenly, he noticed looser the grip on his wrists. The parking had fell in a deep silence. The detective opened his eyes and encountered Gilzean’s face, until now happily hovering over him, now grim and serious. The four boys around him were pretty much in the same state, and Jim could not put his hands on why until, bending his neck backwards to see, he followed their gaze. Then he saw them: A group of five or six men, big and of broad shoulders, making their way inside the parking. They were elegant and dressed well, all carrying a gun across their hips. Then Jim understood, when in the darkness of the night, he could make out Carmine Falcone’s face among them.
The old man stood up beside Gilzean. He looked older than the last time, Jim noticed. New marks had appeared in his forehead and around his eyes. Yet his gaze was as harsh as ever. ‘Good night, James,’ he said to him. On his right hand rested what seemed to be a Cuban cigar. A grey heavy smoke emanated from it, filling Jim’s lungs. He made what possible not to cough. At his side, Milos Grapa, one of the Don’s well-known bodyguards, accompanied him. Jim briefly glanced at him. He was a fifty-something man, of built up form and dislocated features. He was silent most of the time, and did not do much but stare.
‘What’s up?’ Jim said bitterly. ‘How’s the party going?’
Don Falcone did not granted him an answer. He merely chuckled before turning away towards Butch. He then extended his hand in the air, like waiting for something to be given to him. Gilzean had a second of doubt before handing him Jim’s notebook. They had probably took it away from him while the boys pinned him down to the car. He hadn’t even noticed. Jim saw as the Don took it, turning the pages one by one, and glancing hardly at him upon meeting the last one. The old man quickly tear the notebook apart.
Jim widened his eyes at this, and opened his mouth to say something. Yet when the tall figure of Don Falcone gave a long step towards him, and inclined to look straight to his eyes, he had to stay quiet. He was extremely calm. Never losed the composure in his old phlegmatic eyes. Jim thought it was irritating.
‘We had a conversation about this subject months ago, James,’ the Don told him. ‘Or do I recall it wrong?’
‘I’m sorry,’ Jim said, defiant. ‘I don’t remember it.’
The hands of the boy holding him down tightened. Suddenly, he could feel a hot unknown breath against his nape. ‘Be respectful, man,’ a boyish voice warned him. And Jim had to inhale deep for not to curse him. Above him, he could still feel Don Falcone’s gaze observing him. Detailing him deeply. For a moment, he believed the man was about to slap him. But that wouldn’t have been something a Don would have done. The old man simply straightened himself, throwing the last pieces of Jim’s notebook to the ground. Then he was turning around, leaving him behind without a second glance.
‘Come on, Butch,’ Jim heard him saying, his voice already muffled by the distance. ‘Leave this to Milos. Enjoy the party.’
In front of him, the smile quickly returned to Gilzean’s face.
‘Of course, Don Falcone,’ the big guy responded. He made a nod to his boys to stay, and proceeded to follow the Don inside the building. ‘Good bye, Jim,’ he said before leaving. ‘And no hard feelings, ha?’
Jim clenched his teeth, unable to respond. The boys still kept him pinned to the car hood. In front of him, the tall figure of Milos Grapa, stood silent and menacing. That caught Jim’s attention; usually these guys talked to no end, especially in these kinds of situations. But this one was different.