Disclaimer: The song and the band of course belong to the band and their record label. The idea and the words of the story are the only things which are mine.
The boys are here they've just been given 'assumed" names for the purpose of the story. Also the title is the same as the song from the Duran Duran ablum "Arena."
Inside the cavernous room that that had been draped in floor to ceiling heavy maroon and white drapery that echoed the color scheme of the dining tables arranged in its center a little over two dozen and half that many women took their assigned seats at the tables, indicated by white cards written in a delicate calligraphy with.
In the back of his mind he thought ‘So much of the important stuff happens behind closed doors and with the veneer of civility that one might also think that we do is respectable.’
With an amused yet irritated sniff he also though. “Organized crime, they call it. I call it organized common sense.’
The man who had been seated at the head of the table facing towards the main entrance was in his late 30’s or possibly or forties was of medium height and build, with dark hair and eyes and wearing an expensively tailored three-piece suit, his tie of a washed-out silk had the same color scheme as the drapes but much more subdued.
He was also rather painfully aware that much of what had gone before this moment had been the most of successful of gambits nor had it the worst.
In the back of his mind he ‘All things considered I would place this latest business arrangement into the category of a qualified success, and hence in terms of a cost/benefit analysis I can afford to be generous.’ The times being what they were, the uncertainty, both at home and overseas, as the man who called the shots and ultimately would be the one to face the inevitable consequences of his actions; they would look to him to take the lead, to take his people down the path toward their future.
That being said, it did not hurt to celebrate every once in a while, and to hell with the authorities for the time being.
Even as these thoughts and the equally turbulent emotions chased themselves through his mind the man some referred to by the moniker “Scarface” raised his glass of very expensive red win and then launched into his formal greeting of his family, some were blood-related, most were not, but in the circles that he ran in, family was still family and that was very unlikely to ever change.
Elliot Ness stood on the far end of the boulevard directly across from the main entrance of The Grand Plaza Hotel with his arms folded over his chest and his trench coat all but buttoned up to his chin. The stiff evening breeze coming in from an easterly direction drew subtle patterns out of his ash blond hair.
He stole a brief appraising glance at his new assistant and tried to hide a disconcerted frown. The man appeared too much like a rookie agent for his own good. Fresh as a proverbial daisy and chafing at the bit like a race horse full of an eagerness to go and do’ and while this eagerness good be a thing, sometimes in his experience over-eagerness was just as likely to get you killed as cowardice or uncertainty.
He was just priming to say something to that effect when the younger man began to speak in a bit of breathless rush.
“Sir, if you do not mind my saying so,” began Rhodes, his white skin flooding with eager yet self-conscious color. “I think that this time we’re really narrowing in on Capone.”
“Rhodes, you don’t know enough about how this business works nor do you have enough experience to make such emphatic statement at this critical juncture. Just follow my lead and keep your mouth shut, understand?
“I, I mean. Yes, Sir,” the younger agent replied with a brisk nod.
Of course he’d been at this gig for too long that he rightfully felt that he lost that freshly minted shine of naivety and wide-eyed credulity.
He also knew that his superiors might not always believe that to be to the case what with his big brown eyes, smooth skin and heavy eye-lids that seemed to be perpetually lidded at half-mast.
He knew he had what they called a baby-face, but he preferred to think of it as an every-man-in the crowd. He had paid his dues, worked his way up the ranks, and the icing on the proverbial cake would have had to be when the renowned G-Man Elliot Ness would select him as his partner.
But as far as Nick Rhodes was concerned nicknames notwithstanding, he had finally made it. He was nervous but confident at the same time; it made for a strange way to feel.
Ness dipped raised his arm to check the time on his watch and then nodded in satisfaction. Everything should be in place by now and coordinated with the police for the raid on the gambling and drinking den operated by the cartel led by Capone. If all went according to plan they would have him in custody along with several key members by tomorrow morning. Of course, he’d been after the man for several years now and he still did not have much more in the way of concrete evidence to stick anything more damning and on the man other than tax evasion; but a man could hope could he not?
They strode across the boulevard to the main entrance the noises and smells of the gala going on inside of the huge building hitting them as soon as the door was opened. Even as he placed one foot inside of the threshold Ness remarked to Rhodes: “I don’t know if I should take as a good omen or a bad one that they felt confident enough in their own power to leave just light security at the entrance. But we will soon find out.” **
Bernardo Giovanni. dubbed “Knuckles” by his family and cronies for his slender but deceptively strong wrists was the first to notice that something was amiss. He’d been only been half-listening to the conversation and just on the tad self-congratulatory speeches that had been going on throughout the evening and had perhaps drunk more of the heady beer and wine than might be considered good for him. But he felt sober enough and aware of enough of his immediate surroundings to feel that something was definitely wrong.
He leaned over and nudged his friend, Simon Grasso who had , also, not as drunk as Bernardo, but much more alert had suddenly jolted forward in his chair as the sound of running feet and voices intruded into the hubbub of the hall; at at distinct discord to the celebratory atmosphere.
Both men tensed and made to reach for their own guns which rested in their holsters.
“Something’s up. I think we should warn the boss, unless he’s already figured it out,” Grasso whispered.
Just at that precise moment the noise of running feet and voices were met by the appearance of the police and men in three-piece suits. “The Feds” was the cry taken up by the crowd.
After that it was sheer bedlam as screams and gun-fire and running feet and falling bodies as the scene erupted into a mad-house.
Smashed bottles of alcohol spilling their contents onto the carpet mingled with pools of blood.
When it was all over and Ness stepped over to the center table and spat into the impression where only earlier that evening a very expensive Italian wine bottle had taken pride of place among the fancy center-piece and flowers. “That went well,” he muttered under his breath.
“Sir,” Rhodes replied. “I think it went better than expected.”
“How so?” Ness replied.
“Well I’ve come to think of this case as like a big pond.”
“Explain,” Ness encouraged.
“Well, there are small fish and there big fish. And sometimes in order to survive the big fish eat the smaller ones, that’s just the nature of the cycle.”
“And until we get something to concrete to pin on the bosses and by extension the rest of the families, I guess the Bureau and I will have to be satisfied with the small fish. At least for now, then.”
Chapter 2: One Way or Another
"One Way or Another I'm Gonna Getcha"
To say that it had become something akin to an obessesion would be over-slympifing the case. If pressed on the matter he might not have been able to give it a simple label but when had 'that' ever fazed him?
As his new baby-faced partner had put it "There are small fish and there are big fish. In order to survive the big fish eat the little fish. That's just the nature of the cycle." At the time Nick Rhodes had actually summarized the events of that night pretty well.
In the back of his mind, Elliott could not help thinking, 'I don't want to settle for the small fish.' Hell, you'd think that someone with a rap sheet as long as both my arms there must be something in there that we could charge the guy with and make it stick. There must be! *** He'd come very close of not only catching his elusive prey that fateful night at the Old Royale speak-easy while Old Scarface, his cronies and, if there were such a thing in the dark underbelly of the Big Apple, the A-Lister of who's who in organized crime.
They'd been wining and dining and ordering expensive steak and the bust should have gone off without a hitch but somehow a lot of somethings had gone wrong.
Maybe he'd been tipped off, maybe? He still had the wine bottle that had taken pride of place where Scarface and his cronies had sat that night.
Ness figured it was useless to wonder what might have been or to speculate on how long he'd been trying to bring the man down.
Of late, every time it seemed he figured he'd gotten Capone and his croines dead to rights it was as if it would evaparote into thin air, like a ghost when we you look directly at them; not that Ness believed in ghosts, mind you. To his way of thinking there were ghosts and then there were ghosts. The former were the kind that were like the old adage of deductive reasoning. Once you have ellimanted all the likely scenarios and reasons whatever remains however improably must be the truth.
And then there were the type of ghosts that went bump in the night. Those he did not believe in. Following that particular train of thought Ness had to wonder if Capone knew he was after him, and if he did if the man worried about Ness chasing after him like some kind of restless spirit whose task had been left unfinished.
He smiled at the image and realized that Nick Rhodes was glanced up from filing the paperwork of the latest encounter and was looking at him funny.
"No, no, Sir. Is something wrong?" Is there anything I can do for you?"
Good kid, Rhodes, and if not for that smooth baby-faced ruddy complexion of his, he seemed to be on the fast track to paying his dues and rising up in the ranks one of these days. "Nah, just thinking," Ness replied./> He tapped his fingers on the smooth surface of his desk and considered his options.
Do I want to get this guy? Oh Yes, yes, I do very much. Probably much more than I've ever wanted to catch any other perp in my time? Definitely.
Do I want it to be some grand gesture with guns blazing? Maybe, maybe not. Do I think it will be the icing on the proverbial cake after all this time?
Would I be satasified if it finally caught Capone with enough to make it stick this time and it wasn't a big deal? I don't know. Even if were being honest with myself, I don't know.
Come on, Elliot. You have to ask yourself:
Do I think I could let this go? No,not anymore. Perhaps early on I might been able to say enough is enough and walk away from this; or even make a formal request to hand over the Al Capone case to another agent.
But now? One might ask, and you might even be right even if this whole thing is running me ragged. Yes, in some ways, but in ways that I can't explain it's electrfying. And let's face it, I do not want to let it go.
So, Al, if you're out there, I've got a message for you. The name is Elliott Ness and one way or another I'm gonna get you.