a/n: WHOO. I wrote this all in one sitting, and I'm not really sure what this is. I guess it's a... maybe a... you know what, I don't know. Anyway, here's my interpretation of how Atlas was killed and Viktor's knees went bad, because the whole "Mordecai murders him he's the bad guy" thing is just too obvious. A good murder mystery never spoils what actually happens too early.
It started out simple. She asked him to go do something. He complied. It's only a mile away, he thinks. I'll walk. The task: to acquire more liquor from a new speakeasy that would like to join forces with the Lackadaisy and expand Atlas' great empire. Rocky was tasked with heading down, picking the bootleg up, and transporting it back to the Little Daisy for storage. There was only one glitch: this speakeasy, called Silver Lining, was in a dark alleyway. Rocky did not like alleyways, and especially not ones of the dark variety. As he rounded the corner, he took a deep breath in hopes that he might inhale some courage as well as the oxygen and took a few steps forward. He began to walk towards the door that was creating a tiny beam of light across the shadows when he saw a sudden movement beside him. Terrified, he jumped back into a wall before trying to reason with whatever was there before the mystery creature stepped into the light. It was a vulture.
Ah, a bird, he thinks, and begins to walk forwards before noticing that the vulture had retreated back into the shadows. He could make out two- no, three- five- nine- many, many vultures all gathered around something, and it looks like… another cat. He gulps, pivots to look for any assailants, and comes closer to the cat sprawled on the ground. He can't really tell because there's hardly any light, but it looks like the cat has stripes, and that face looks awfully familiar-
"Hey, hey! Beat it!" he screeched at the birds, making frantic hand gestures. Was that Atlas? Couldn't be. Atlas couldn't be dead. He had an empire to take care of. Surely, he was just passed out. Or, or maybe, it wasn't Atlas at all. Maybe it was his long lost twin brother, named Atlost-
Rocky hears the door creak open and instinctively dives behind a trashcan, praying, begging, pleading to stay alive. Light floods the alley, and he can make out the face of the man lying on the ground much better now. It was Atlas.
Atlas, the only man who'd consider employing him.
Atlas, the man who had the greatest speakeasy in St. Louis.
Atlas, who had a wife and goddaughter to think of.
Atlas, who was probably just taking a nap on the ground?
The door shuts, and Rocky crab-crawls over to him, hoping for the best. He extends his fingers, feels around his neck, his arm, anywhere he could think of for a pulse. After a minute of not being able to find anything, he gives up and releases his hand, which is now covered in blood.
Atlas is dead.
Rocky doesn't gather his violin case, doesn't stop to make sure his lucky tie doesn't rip on a piece of wood jutting out, doesn't even try to organize his thoughts. He just runs. His feet follow their instincts and head straight to the Little Daisy café. He barges through the doors, gets blood on a table after he sets his hand down to steady himself as he runs in a hairpin curve formation, making a beeline between tables and confused customers.
He has to get to Miss M.
"Ivy, where's Miss M.?" he demands, his voice frantic. She clearly notices.
"She's in the storage room, why? Is something wro-"
Rocky's already bounding down the corridors and can't hear her anymore. He flings open doors, dashes through them like his life depended on it, screaming for Miss M. to please, please come out, it's an emergency. Emergency is a word he was taught to only use if someone had been seriously hurt. It turns out "emergency" was not a good word for when somebody gets a paper cut, but he figures now might be a very good time to use "emergency."
He flings open the door to the stock room, and Mitzi nearly drops the glass she was holding while Viktor glares at him for disturbing the rare peace. "Geez, Rocky, what's got you up in a tizzy?" Miss M. asks while Viktor continues to beam a hole into his eyes with the death glare.
He pants for a few moments, trying to catch his breath- after all, he had just run a mile straight to tell them about what had just happened. He finally managed to squeak out, "Atlas…"
All three of them run out to the car and drive as fast as they can to the Silver Lining Speakeasy.
The car doesn't even stop before everybody spills out of it, terrified of the sight that might lie before them. Mitzi runs up to her husband, sees the blood spilling everywhere, sobs his name, drops to her knees. Viktor comes over to inspect the wound when they're engulfed by light yet again. Rocky pushes them behind a barrel, and two silhouettes appear in the light. "I told you I heard voices!" the taller of the two men. "I told you!"
"You are always hearing voices." the shorter, and clearly more level-headed of the duo reminds him.
"But, this time, I saw them! I did!" the taller insists.
"You are always seeing people. Mostly your mother. SHE IS DEAD."
"You think I'm hallucinating, Clarence?" He waggles his gun around in an odd motion. "I'll prove to you I'm not crazy! I'll prove it!" He points the gun and, in one swift movement, pulls the trigger while aiming at a barrel. A man's voice calls out, rough and agitated, and he hears a thunk as the person falls to the ground. "I told you! I told you I'm not crazy!" he insists, and points wildly to the shadows moving frantically about.
"We see you! Come out! Who are you?" Clarence demands, and Mitzi pokes her head out ever so slightly. They lock eyes with her, and, her plan flawed, she stands. "You- you killed my husband?" she stutters, tears pouring down her cheeks. "I thought we- we had a deal." Her breathing snags, and she uses all of her willpower to not burst into hysterical sobs.
"Ah, Mary Ellen. I thought a smart girl like you would have read the papers. Remember the shootings lead by Clarence Jennings?"
Mitzi spits back, "Which I confronted you about! Which you claimed was all a fraud! Which, despite my years of dealing with liars, I believed, because you dealt out the most convincing lie I'd ever heard!"An edge of hysteria creeps into her voice, and she quietly tells Rocky, "Tend to Viktor."
"Tend to him?"
"Yes, tend. Be like a nurse." She goes right back to arguing with the men who murdered her husband while Rocky tries to focus on doing what she wants, because there is no doubt in his mind that is he does not manage to do what she expects, he will be fired with the way her sanity appears to be.
"Hi- hi, Viktor…" he stammers, and bends down to his level, where his face is contorted in pain. "Where- where does it hurt?" he asks, making it sound more like a question asking whether he's doing this job right rather than the spoken words.
"My knee, hlúpy!" he screams at Rocky, and Rocky assumes that he is not calling him an angel in Russian or Spanish or whatever he speaks.
"Where does it hurt?" Rocky asks, poking his finger into Viktor's left knee, causing the giant cat to squawk in pain. "How about this one?" He pokes the other one gingerly and gets the same reaction. Viktor begins to scream obscenities at him in his native language, and Rocky decides testing pain levels was not such a good idea. He looks up to see Miss M. glaring at him, and he smiles nervously. "Sorry, Mis-"
"Give me Viktor's gun." she demands, her voice a forced whisper. Rocky opens Vikttor's jacket up, pulls out the handgun, and puts it gently in Miss M.'s hand. She gets a strange look in her eye, smiles in a half-seductive, half-destructive way, and takes aim. She's definitely not the best shooter and can't hit a target from 50 meters away, but she can hit two men six feet in front of her, and she doesn't miss. They fall to the ground, and she immediately drops the gun before falling to her knees again. She begins to sob, he shoulders shake, and as she crawls over to her husband's lying form, she whispers: "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
Rocky works to drag the bodies of Clarence and what's-his-face out of sight, far away from the scene. They're stuffed into barrels that are rolled onto a nearby train. It won't hide them forever, they decide, but it's better than leaving them there not six feet away from Atlas' lifeless form.
"I'm so sorry," everyone tells her a week later, and she thanks them, but wonders if anyone could be quite as worry as she is. She's dressed in a modest black dress and wears a small veil to cover the tears that she knows will be inevitable as the band plays a special song they composed as a tribute to Atlas. Rocky, Zib, and all the others are dressed in their Sunday best and in between all the chords they play, the notes they strum, they give their now widowed Mitzi fond, solemn looks. She tilts her head, hoping they won't see her crying.
The marble coffin with intricate designs is lowered carefully into a large ditch, and everyone hangs their heads, takes their hats off, dab their eyes with handkerchiefs as they pray for both the dead body in the coffin and the beautiful widow who can't seem to avert her eyes from it.
Exhausted from the entire ordeal, Mitzi was somewhat glad to have found at least a bit of closure. She hadn't rested at all that week, and she couldn't seem to take her mind off Atlas until she saw him lowered gently into the ground, forever at rest in that beautiful bed she's spent so much on for him. Anyone could see she loved Atlas, that much was obvious. While they were hardly a perfect couple, when they gazed into each others' eyes, it was clear that they adored each other. During the ceremony, Ivy, who had promised to be brave, couldn't keep up the façade and broke down in tears, sobbing into her godmother's shoulder. Mitzi stroked her hair and dried her tears, trying to be the perfect maternal figure. As they went to the car, they stopped to give the grave one last long look, and then turned away from it.
Mitzi fell asleep almost immediately after entering the car, and her head fell onto Rocky's lap. He attempted to do just as she had to Ivy: he stroked her hair in what he hoped was a comforting fashion (although driving with one hand and reassuring an insecure widow proved to be a difficult task) and he tried to drive slowly over the potholes, hoping the bumps wouldn't wake her up. He tried squeezing her hand a few times to console her, all the while attempting not to puke all over her- the image of Atlas sprawled all over the alley was one he just could not shake away. (Rocky didn't like blood and guts very much when they were pouring out of his boss. He almost didn't like it as much as he disliked alley ways.) When they parked at her house and she didn't get up, he called Ivy over and they attempted to carry her in without waking her up.
They set her gently onto the bed, then tip-toed out of the room so they would not make a sound. "Good night, Miss," Rocky whispers, and they leave the room.
And the Lackadaisy was never the same- the customers don't pour in like they did, and the liquor doesn't flow into their stock room (rather, it trickles, due to Mitzi's untrust in other speakeasies), and the portrait in the office no longer exists as a wish for good fortune, but as a memorial for the deceased founder of the vanquished empire.