Lindy could feel herself drifting in and out of consciousness. One minute she felt slightly of this world, the next, she was somewhere else. She smiled a Cheshire cat smile as she drifted through her dream state. As her eyes gave a slight roll she was back in a safe place, the faces of her family were all smiling down at her. They may not have been the kinds of faces that would make anyone else smile, but to her, they were perfection. But now the smiling faces of her family were starting to fade. They were beginning to mix with that unpleasant, now familiar sound of high-pitched cackling. The low and base-like groans and guffaws of her environment were moving themselves to the forefront of her consciousness.
Whatever they'd force fed her again was surely wearing off now. Lindy was confused. The smiling family faces, the cackling, the encroaching sounds of debauchery, it was all mixing into a sickening cocktail of bewilderment. It was like a bad dream that she couldn't wake up from.
CRACK!...Lindy felt an almighty thwack across her back. Now she was awake, wide awake, and the lucid reality of where she was all came flooding back in a second.
Tommy took a long hard drag of his cigarette. The bloody war was still vividly fresh in his mind, but he knew the family business had to take precedent over the torturous memories that remained in his head. Once again he swept away a ghastly flashback and focused on the task in hand.
"Right boys", Arthur's voice boomed through the hollowed out terrace houses. "Today's the day. We've got a long journey ahead of us, but no doubt Dublin is gonna bring us fresh money…and with any luck some fresh women".
The five men laughed and cheered at the prospect, even Tommy cracked a smile at Arthur's simple and jovial outlook on what was truly very serious business. Arthur raised his dwindling glass of whisky to the rest of the room, that was obviously where his Dutch courage was coming from thought Tommy,
"To Ireland", Arthur toasted, as he swigged back the last shot of whisky from his glass.
"And to the Shelby Bothers Limited", added Tommy, subtly reminding the boys that they were on a working mission and not a jolly. Arthur may have been the head of the family, but Tommy had masterminded the whole Dublin mission. And if all went according to plan, when they touched back down on English soil Tommy was going to propose to Arthur that he should take charge of drumming up new money. Tommy knew he had the brains, Arthur was more like a foot soldier, but like everything in Tommy's life, a strategic plan would have to be devised if Arthur was going to be persuaded to take a step back from running all fronts of the business. The 5 men: Tommy, Arthur, John, Albert and Frank exited the house with bounce in their step, and jumped into the horse drawn wagon that was waiting out the front. If they pulled this mission off, Shelby Brothers Limited would be sitting on a wad of cash larger than any of them could have ever dreamed.
Johnny Maguire surveyed his impressive knuckle duster. Many a skull had been cracked with this beauty. Johnny didn't see himself as an evil man, but growing up in Dublin's inner-city slums didn't leave one with much choice other than to form a tough outer shell that even the most beautiful of women could not penetrate. It was a hard world he'd been born into, but he loved his kin, he loved his homeland and he resolved to himself that however much money he made from his life of sin, he would never leave behind what he loved. The Dublin slums were his home, and that's what they would always be.
It had been about a month since Tommy Shelby had visited him with a business proposition. He'd recognised the name Shelby immediately; it was well known throughout many parts of his beautiful country. The proposition was a grand one, a robbery of sorts. Johnny Maguire was no stranger to robbery, after all, he'd made an honest living out of it for most of his life, but this was going to be the riskiest escapade of his criminal career to date. Tommy had learned Johnny Maguire's name through talk in the trenches. He was one of the most skilled and accomplished petty robbers of his day and had just the amount of local knowledge and experience that Tommy needed to complete his squad.
Everything was in place for the move that could make or break his career. Soon Tommy and his men would be arriving by boat. Being the gentleman that Johnny Maguire was, he planned to show his hospitality by taking them to some of the finest taverns and whore houses that Dublin had to offer. All very discreetly mind, they didn't want to be drawing too much attention to themselves the night before the grand plan was about to go down! He packed his revolver, pushed his jet black hair underneath his peak cap, and set off in search of his Irish partner in crime, Seamus Lee.
The short cane had split across Lindy's back for the umpteenth time since this wretched ordeal had begun.
"This is your last fucking chance bitch", a sharp voice spat in Lindy's ear. "I'm doing those Smith bastards a bloody favour by keeping you here, you'd think you would at least put out when you're supposed to".
Lindy's mind was lucid now. This despicable woman could drug her to heaven and back with whatever opium concoction she liked, she was not going to break her. She still held faith that sooner or later her whole bloody family was going to burst through the door of the whore house where she was being held captive, and shoot every wretched bastard in this god forsaken place.
She couldn't comprehend the events of the last week. This time last Friday she was sitting in the family headquarters with her brothers, in beautiful London town, drinking rum and counting the cash from their swindling of a deal with the Smith family. Now she was lying on a brown stained mattress, both hands tied to a bed frame, rolling in and out of consciousness while this Madame kept her topped up with opium - it was the only way to shut her up and stop her from attacking the punters. She knew that the Smiths were holding her to ransom. She knew this because Madame Black had a big mouth. She also knew that the Smith's wanted her kept alive; she was no ransom if she was dead. Undoubtedly, if the Smith's hadn't wanted her kept alive she would've been put out of her misery by Madame Black on the first day.
Madame Black was a spindly woman. She wore all of her jewellery every day. Beads, feathers, hats, rings, she was completely adorned. Her fiery red hair was a perfect frizzy mess piled on top of her head. Everything she wore was old and tired, but it had all once been of the finest quality, and for that reason she thought she looked like the queen of the manor.
Lindy was supposed to be a useful extra body to bring in some funds during her stay at the house. Madame Black had rubbed her grubby, nicotine stained little hands together at the prospect of this curvaceous, exotic looking beauty being added to the menu. But Lindy had decided she was not about to be some fat, drunken, lecherous old man's replacement for a wife that couldn't keep her man in check. The first client that Madame Black had smarmily sent her way…she'd given him something to write home about! She'd taken a chunk out of his face with her teeth and then proceeded to stare at him with daring pleasure as he screamed and grabbed at his face in agony. After he stopped screaming he started beating. He had laid his fists into every part of Lindy, and after he'd left, yelling curses down the street, Madame black had made sure she whipped any parts of her body that he might have missed with her blessed cane.
Lindy was as tuff as old boots. She was only 23, but she had been through more than any other female she knew, and coming from the heart of Stepney that was some feat. Her life had been tough living under the roof of her alcoholic father, but that part had been a walk in the park compared with some of the other things that she had lived through. However, this ordeal was becoming more than she could bear. In all honesty, it pained her to believe that actually, she was close to breaking point. Although she'd never let anybody see this, especially Madame Black and her vile punters. Despite her waning heart, she resolved daily to herself that she was Lindy Romano of the notorious Romano familia! And she would not end her days in a whore house in a back street of Dublin.
"Did you hear me you Romano scum?" spat Madame Black. "Don't make a fucking scene, or this time I'll put you in the gutter myself." She lowered her voice, almost trying to make a quiet plea with Lindy, "Look, he's blind drunk. Just let him do what he's gotta do. It'll be over in no time".
Over my dead body, Lindy thought. She stared right through Madame Black without saying a word. She was in her own world, considering whether to lash out at her - she was close enough. No, she would wait for the punter. Maybe she could take a whole ear this time, as a trophy perhaps. Madame Black left the room swiftly. Lindy knew she was becoming too much trouble for this woman to bare. Within a few seconds a large shadow moved closer along the wall leading to her room. And then there, in the door, stood a man of about six foot, one eye half closed, swaying and grinning. He had beer stains all down his filthy shirt and the buttons that were missing exposed a fat hairy belly protruding from underneath.
"Hello darlin'", he slurred, "Madame Black tells me you're a right goer".