"The Me and Mr McCarty" One-Shot Contest
Title: The Legend of the Bear
Summary: Chicago 1931. The Great Depression, prohibition and Al Capone. This is the story of the man who became a legend fighting the greatest forces of his time and the woman he fought them for.
Pen name: katrinka612
Primary Players: Emmett/Rosalie
Word Count: 4474
Disclaimer: All copyrights, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc. mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without their express written authorization.
To see other entries in the "Me and Mr McCarty" contest, please visit the C2: .net/community/Me_Mr_McCarty_Contest_Entries/80509/
and/or the official List of Entries Page on the contest blog.
Important events happen every day. Most are carried only in memories, eventually lost to the winds of time. Some are written in books and taught to children hundreds of years later. The rest are passed from mouth to ear, sometimes in whispers, sometimes in song, each time with a changed word or inflection, growing and accommodating. Some call this particular story a legend because you won't find it in any history book, but the main difference between this story and other legends is this story is absolutely true. This is the legend of a man who was no one until love made him an outlaw and fate made him a hero.
This tale has many too many distinct beginnings to pinpoint where it really started. Suffice to say, the universe was birthed in a bang and, millions of years later, strings and knots converged and conspired to situate our hero in the boxing ring of a smoky underground club during the hot Chicago summer of 1931.
Inside the ring, he was known as "The Bear." Certainly the name suited him because he was thickly muscled and towered over anyone who crossed him. But he had earned his nickname for the ear-splitting roar he released right before pummeling his opponent. (Truth be told, his fierceness could be compared to that of a she bear protecting her young, but no one had yet had the courage to call this monster of a man "Mama Bear.")
Every bout was the same. For the first few rounds, our hero would take hit after hit, only exerting himself to guard his face or bob and weave. Just as it seemed he was down for the count, he would close his eyes, take a deep breath and unleash his war cry, stopping hearts and shaking rafters. Then our hero would bum rush his opponent, starting and finishing him in a massacre of fists. Gigantic arms flew in a flurry of jabs and hooks and crosses, dominating and decimating the sad, sorry adversary.
Some called The Bear a master manipulator. "He lulls the competition into a false sense of security then strikes when their guard is down," they crowed. But the truth few knew was that our hero did not have the heart of a fighter. He had the body of a fighter, the hands and feet and speed to win. His hands could create reds and blues and purples, but he was not an artist and he did not enjoy what he was capable of. His roar was not the fury of fight but a cry of frustration. On the verge of defeat, he reminded himself that, if he lost, he could neither feed his mother nor save money to marry the woman of his dreams. He had no book learning and no others skills. He fought his fight, but the fight always won. For our hero, each victory was also a loss.
On the night in question, our hero was pitted against the golden boy from Texas. This hombre was a highly touted boxer known for his cunning and perseverance. Bored with beating the boys back home, he ventured north to square off with the fabled Bear. He had won more bouts and earned more titles than our hero, and the Texan fans had an easy faith in their Lone Star. But only an out-of-towner would be ignorant enough to bet against the heart of The Bear.
"Tonight, we are going to witness the most anticipated match of the year. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing first, fighting out of the blue corner, we have from the great state of Texas, the five-time state champion and title holder for the southwestern region four years running, Jasper 'Lone Star' Whitlock! Fighting out of the red corner, he has bloodied and bruised many a more-experienced fighter, undefeated in this his first year in the professional circuit, the hometown hero, Emmett 'The Bear' McCarty!"
The two gentlemen approached the center of the ring, touched gloves, and began their terrifying pas de deux. Our hero tried to make a better show tonight, throwing a few punches early on, because sitting in the front row was a women he needed to impress. But Whitlock was a better fighter. His toes barely touched the mat as he danced around. His fists were strikes of lightning, and he dodged our hero's punches with such ease they might as well have been thrown with arms of molasses.
As the bell rang to signal the start of the twelfth round, our hero looked into the crowd and saw his beautiful girl wrapped under the arm of another man. Red exploded across his vision and his skin caught fire. Then he gave the audience what they had been waiting for: the roar of The Bear. Our hero descended on Whitlock, rage in every nerve and bone and muscle. The fight was over in a matter of minutes. Texas' Lone Star never stood a chance.
Later that night, everybody who was anybody gathered at the Green Mill to regale themselves with jazz and booze and broads. Our hero sat in a round booth with a flapper under each arm, looking for all the world like an affable playboy. But he was neither speaking to them nor paying them any attention at all. Jasper Whitlock slid into the booth, playfully eyeing the dark-haired girl to his left before speaking.
"Good match, McCarty. I guess the rumors about you are true. Really thought I had a fighting chance." He paused, then drunkenly snorted at his unintentional pun.
"Sorry about your nose, Whitlock. I hope it's not broken."
"Hard to say anymore. I reckon I'll break it enough times that it will eventually look right again."
Our hero hummed absent-mindedly, his attention back on a woman across the room. Jasper followed his gaze to see what was preventing an acknowledgment of his witty rejoinder.
"My, my. That there is one fancy dame. She anyone special?"
"That's Miss Rosalie Hale. She's Royce King's moll."
"Royce King?" Jasper's eyes went wide. "As in Al Capone's banker?" Our hero nodded and Jasper let out a low whistle.
"Well, now, I sincerely hope you're not carrying a torch for her. She's mighty easy on the eyes, but I doubt even those gams are worth the trouble you would have getting your hands on them."
"Trust me, friend. If the impossible were possible, she would be worth it."
He could only see one breast in the sliver of moonlight shining through the window. He considered picking her up and rotating her to he could see both at once but was afraid that would be rude. He settled for looking at one and holding the other. He blew gently on the one he could see and watched it pucker under the cold air. He then took it in his mouth partly to warm it back up, but mostly just for a taste. He grinned as best he could around the nipple when the woman attached to the breast groaned and wriggled under him.
"God, Emmett. Don't tease me so. That feels amazing."
"Do you think your parents knew what wonderful, rose-colored nipples you would have when they named you Rosalie?"
"What? Don't be abs-" she broke off with another groan as his tongue circled her nipple.
"Emmett, don't start again. It's getting late and I have to get home before my parents become suspicious." To emphasize her point and because she did not know how much longer she could exercise restraint, she pushed him off and stood up to dress.
"Let me walk you home tonight, Rose. No one will see us. I don't want you to walk alone."
"I will be fine, Emmett. It's only a five minute walk. You never know who which drunk in the gutter has ties to Royce."
His expression hardened at the mention of Royce King. He may have had her heart, but Royce King controlled her life. She noticed the pain on his face and sat back down next to him.
"I'm sorry, Emmett. I shouldn't have mentioned him. But don't look so sad, darling. With your win tonight, we'll soon have enough money to leave this place and move out west. Can you imagine Mama McCarty and me having to spend all day indoors together in rainy Seattle? She and I will fight like cats and dogs and it will be glorious because you and I will be together."
He nodded, leaning into her neck to breathe her in. She smelled like roses all the time now, which would have been beautiful and perfect for her were it not for the provenance of the scent. She argued that someone would notice if she threw away the bouquet of flowers Royce sent her every day. He vowed that, when they were finally together, he would find some other scent to bathe her in, preferably his own sweat and kisses.
Though Rosalie had assured our hero of her safety, she hurried home, not wanting to be out alone at night longer than necessary. The streets were well lit, but the dark alleys every block only served to increase her unease. She was only a few blocks from her home when she heard the sound of breaking glass and raucous laughter from the next alley. She put her head down and moved faster, hoping to pass unnoticed, when a voice called out to her.
"Rose!" the voice yelled, while others around him laughed stupidly. She recognized the voice immediately, but somehow did not feel comforted.
"Royce, is that you?" she asked tentatively, not entering the alley.
"Here's my Rose!" Royce, shouted, laughing as stupidly as his companions. He stumbled toward her. When she had left him at the Green Mill an hour earlier, he had only had one glass of champagne, but now he reeked to high heaven of whiskey and cigar smoke.
"Royce, you're drunk!"
"Nonsense, my Rose. The fellas and I were just quenching our thirst with a little giggle water." Rosalie cringed away as he simultaneously hiccuped and burped in her face.
"What're you doing out here, my Rose? I thought you went home."
"I decided to drop by my friend Vera's. She lives a few blocks from here, you know."
"The ever-proper Rosalie Hale paid a social visit at this hour?" Royce grabbed her arm, yanking her closer to him. Rosalie had to choose her words carefully. Royce was clearly not drunk enough to fool easily.
"She's up at all hours with her new baby. I thought I would take a chance that she was awake. And she and I are such old friends that we don't stand on ceremony about these things."
"Sitting up with a baby all night? How barbaric! My Rose, when you give me beautiful boys, you won't have to lift a finger to care for them."
Normally, Rosalie would defend her friend against Royce's snobbery, but he was drunk and holding her arm quite roughly, so she decided to let it pass.
"You spoil me, Royce."
"What did I tell you, John?" Royce turned to one of the men in the alley, yanking Rosalie forcefully around with him. "Isn't my Rose lovelier than any of the dames you futz around with?"
The man named John looked over Rosalie like she was a horse he was buying.
"S'hard to tell," he slurred. "She's all covered up."
They all laughed, Royce like the rest.
Suddenly Royce ripped her jacket from her shoulders, brass buttons scattering all over the street.
"Show him what you look like, my Rose!" He laughed again, then tore her hat off her head. The pins wrenched her hair from the roots, and she cried out in pain. They laughed again as she fell to the ground.
A few minutes after Rosalie left, our hero decided to walk to her house following the path he knew she would take to make sure she made it safely. He had walked a few blocks when he heard a scream. He knew that scream, but the context was all wrong. That scream belonged in his bed, the tones colored with pleasure, but this scream was out in the uncaring Chicago night, darkened by terror and pain.
Our hero broke into a flat-out sprint toward to sound. He would not have found Rosalie in the alley she had been pushed into were it not for the sound of laughter emerging from the darkness. In the second it took from him to reach Rosalie from the mouth of the alley, our hero was able to take in the scene in all it's horrifying detail. Four men were frozen open-mouthed, staring in the direction of the disturbance approaching them. One he recognized as Royce King. Royce was standing with two men, watching the fourth who was hovering over Rosalie, his pants at his ankles.
Rosalie – his Rosalie! The image of her lying on the ground would haunt his memories every day for the rest of his life. Blood poured from her head and her lip was swollen. Her eyes were shut. He couldn't tell if she was unconscious or not. He hoped she was. Her bodice was ripped and her skirt was pushed up around her waist. Underneath her, her leg was twisted back at an unnatural angle.
Our hero let out a roar that made the very bricks of the alley walls cower in fear. This was not his famed battle call the men were accustomed to. This was the sound of terror and rage. This was the sound of their impending death.
Before the men could even flinch, our hero grabbed the man on top of Rosalie and wrenched his head, the neck snapping in a sickening crunch. He then lunged at the two men next to Royce and bashed their heads into the alley wall. By this time Royce had regained his senses and was running toward the street. Our hero turned in pursuit, but stopped when he heard a small noise below him.
Our hero spun around and threw himself on the ground next to his beautiful Rosalie.
"Rosalie, oh Rose! You're alive!" he sobbed, gently stroking her cheek.
"Emmett," she whimpered. "It hurts!"
"Oh god, baby!" He looked her over, trying to decide what to do. He reached down and scooped her up, cradling her tightly to his chest. Then he took off running back to his house.
"Mama! Mama!" he called as he burst through the front door. He ran to his room and gently laid Rosalie on his bed where she had lain in happiness not more than an hour earlier.
"Emmett! What's the matter? What happened?" Mama McCarty cried, racing into his room.
"Call Doc Cullen!" Doc Cullen was the physician who superintended all the boxing matches. He was the only person our hero could think to call.
God bless him, Doc Cullen arrived at the McCarty home not fifteen minutes later. Taking care of boxers, he was well-accustomed to treating contusions and broken limbs, but never on a woman. He gasped at the sight of Rosalie, but quickly recovered himself and set to work cleaning her wounds evaluating her injuries.
"Well, Miss Hale, you are a tough lady. Most of your injuries are superficial. The leg is, of course, broken, but it appears to be a clean break. If you stay off it, you should recover completely. I have stabilized it for now, and I'll come back tomorrow with Plaster of Paris to set the bone."
After Rosalie expressed her thanks to Doc Cullen, he gestured for Emmett to follow him out of the room.
"McCarty, do you know who did that to her?"
"It was Royce King and some goons of his. I found her in an alley not far from here with them."
"What did you do, McCarty?"
Our hero looked down at this hands. "It's best if you don't ask that. The less you know the better."
Doc Cullen paled at our hero's implication. "You'll never be able to pin this on King. He's got the police in his pocket. Lay low, McCarty. I hate to say it, but he'll be coming after you."
After Doc Cullen left, our hero spent the night sitting by his bed, watching Rosalie sleep. He replayed the night's incident over and over in his head. Rose broken on the ground, her hair forming a blood-soaked halo around her head. The men laughing at her. And, most vividly, his hands crushing life from their bodies. The same hands the loathed throwing punches. He knew he only acted to defend and that those men deserved worse. But he couldn't help staring at his hands and feeling ill knowing what they were capable of, what he had done.
Near dawn, Rosalie stirred and noticed our hero sitting next to her. She motioned for him to lie down with her. Holding her as gently as he could, he closed his eyes and breathed her in. She smelled all wrong, like dirt and blood and antiseptic, but at least she didn't smell like roses anymore. He could hear her heartbeat and feel her breathing. In that moment, he was grateful for what his hands could do.
It was nearly noon before Doc Cullen returned. In a shaking hand, he held out a special-edition newspaper, gesturing to the glaring headline.
Three bodies found late last night. Bank president Royce King accuses Emmett "The Bear" McCarty.
"The article goes on to say you killed his men in order to kidnap his fiancée, Rosalie Hale."
"That's now how it was, Doc. I swear!"
"I believe you, McCarty. But you can't stay here. King is looking for you. The police are looking for you. If you stick around, you won't live to see the end of the week. Is there anywhere you can go?"
"Rose and I were planning on moving out west once I won enough money. I don't care what they accuse me of. I'm not going without her."
"Out west? That's a great idea, McCarty. If you find yourself in the Pacific Northwest, my son lives near the coast in northern Washington. He runs a logging company. I can write him and ask him to give you a job."
In a rather unmanly gesture, our hero pulled Doc Cullen in for a fierce hug. The stunned doctor patted him lightly on the back.
"Oh, sorry! I don't know how I'll ever be able to repay you for your kindness, Doc."
"You're a good kid, McCarty. Repay me by having a good life. And naming one of your kids Carlisle," he added with a wink.
Doc Cullen quickly set Rosalie's leg and said his good-byes. After he left, our hero explained the situation to Rosalie and Mama McCarty. They had been planning to move for some time, desirous of ridding themselves of the dirt and crime of Chicago. Also, Rosalie was sure running away would be the only way to free herself from Royce King. But they weren't nearly prepared for it. They didn't have enough money and they wouldn't be able to pack what they needed, which meant they would have to buy replacements later. Our hero was grateful for the prospect of a job, but did not feel he could count on it given the depressed state of the economy. Hardships laid ahead, but worse waited for them if they stayed.
Mama McCarty left the room to begin packing. Our hero stood to do the same, but Rosalie detained him with a hand on his arm.
"Emmett, I cannot leave this place knowing Royce is out there free. I want him to pay for what he did to me. And I want to be the one to make him pay."
Our hero's blood ran cold at the rage in her words. He know Rosalie was a fiery woman, but he had never seen here eyes filled with such blind hatred. He felt he would rather cut out his own eyes than see that on her face. But he also knew that revenge wouldn't erase the hatred. It would just wrap it in a cold blankness.
"Rose! You can't. I won't let you become a killer. I will not see you carry those men's guilt. You are better than them. You are better than me. Those men hurt you. Don't let them take away your humanity!" Our hero fell to his knees and grabbed Rosalie's hand, pressing it into his face.
Rosalie was alarmed by our hero's outburst. She had been lucid enough to know that he killed three of the men who attacked her. She knew that he would do anything to protect her, but she could now see that the death of those men weighed on him, that their deaths cost him as well. Seeing the man she loved so upset cleared her head. She realized her immobility made it impossible for her to do anything without his help. And seeing him curled in front of her, she knew she loved him too much to ask it of him.
They were able to pack in only a few hours. Rosalie could not go home for any of her belongs out of fear that her appearance would expose Emmett's whereabouts. Our hero was also worried that Royce King would hurt her again (or worse) to cover his tracks – or simply out of spite. Fortunately, Doc Cullen brought over a few of his wife's dresses and toiletries. She tried to refuse, but Doc Cullen said they were simply a loan and he would claim them next time he visited his son. It was the only time during the whole ordeal Rosalie cried.
Being the least recognizable, Mama McCarty left to find a cab. When Emmett and Rosalie heard a car approach, Emmett carried Rosalie outside and sat her on the front step while he went back inside to bring out their luggage. As he neared the door, he heard Rosalie scream.
Our hero dropped the bags and ran outside. The car they had heard was not Mama McCarty in the cab but Royce King passing by in his car. As much as our hero had begged Rosalie not to seek revenge, when he saw Royce, all he could think of was getting his hands around that man's neck.
When Royce saw our hero charging his car, he tried to drive away, but the car stalled. Emmett yanked the door open and grabbed Royce by the collar, pulling him out of the vehicle. This time there was no roar or other preamble. Our hero simply began smashing his fist into Royce's face. He did not register Rosalie's screams for him to stop or crowd gathering or the distant sound of sirens. By this time Mama McCarty had arrived. She ran over to her son and placed her tiny hand on his thick arm. He immediately froze and looked at her.
"That's enough, son," she said quietly. Our hero looked down at Royce and back at his mama. After a moment of hesitation, he dropped Royce. He went back to the house, grabbed Rosalie and their luggage and deposited them all in Royce's car. He and Mama McCarty climbed in. The car started back up easily and they fled the scene.
They drove for a few days before the car finally died in western South Dakota. They took all their belongings, including a wallet full of cash and a briefcase belonging to Royce King, and boarded a train to Seattle.
Three months later
For most of his adult life, our hero assumed his brawn was only good for fighting. Fortunately, he was wrong. In a land where the landscape is dominated by trees instead of concrete, his strength was quite useful in felling those trees and hauling lumber. Our hero found Doc Cullen's son in Port Ludlow, Washington and begged for a job. Though money was tight, the junior Cullen took a chance that such a powerful man would be good for business in the long run. Our hero's strength and diligence quickly earned him the trust and admiration of his boss.
As such, it wasn't unusual for Edward Cullen to visit the McCartys outside of business. It was unusual, however, for our hero to answer to door only to be shouted at and have a newspaper shoved in his face.
"Emmett, my friend, you're famous! Look at this! On the front page!"
Our hero would have been very happy to look if Edward would only stop waving the paper around. The now-mobile Rosalie snatched the Seattle Daily Times and read aloud.
Notorious mob boss sentenced to 11 years.
For years, Al Capone's gang "The Outfit" has terrorized Chicago and the western suburb of Cicero. After the bloody Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929, the FBI, lead by agent Eliot Ness, began an investigation into the criminal organization. Ness had been successfully breaking down the organization bit by bit, but the real coup came late last July in the form of a package in the mail. Ness received a surprise gift from former boxing champ Emmett "The Bear" McCarty in the form of the ledger of banker Royce King. The ledger detailed all monetary transactions between Capone and King, giving Ness the ammunition to push for an indictment on tax evasion. The package also included a letter from McCarty with his vindication for the murders of three of King's associates and the alleged kidnapping of Rosalie Hale. The subsequent search and seizure of the King estate produced a journal that corroborated McCarty's version of events, namely that he was acting in Miss Hale's defense. The Outfit apparently did not appreciate King's carelessness. His body was found last month at the bottom Chicago River wearing cement shoes.
The article went on to detail Capone's infamous history, but Rosalie fell silent after reading of Royce's death. Her arms fell to her side as the newspaper fluttered to the ground. She lifted her face to the man who had made all of that possible. He had helped bring down a dangerous crime syndicate, paving the way for a safer Chicago. But for Rosalie, he was the man who saved her life and made her transgressor pay for his crimes. The look in her eyes told him the only thing that would ever be important to him: he was her hero.