Set after the events of Season Three, this is just a fictional Alternate Universe story. It's made up of chapters that are either told from the perspective of a character, or feature them as the main person in that chapter. It's recommended that you read them in order, and you can request character chapters in the reviews. (This is a work in progress). There will also be an Author's Note after every chapter.
Of course I don't own any of this stuff, this is all copyright Terence Winter, HBO etc. etc. And I play fast and loose with history.
READING, Pennsylvania - Kid
"You gonna eat that?"
Eli shunted over to Mickey his half-devoured Philly Cheesesteak, wincing as the tall Pole wolfed it down.
"How can you eat those? All that cheese."
Mickey wiped his face with a napkin. "How can you not eat it?"
"I maintain a healthy diet. I'm back to my fighting weight thanks to June. Hey, I ever tell you I used to box?"
"Was your fighting weight when you was Sherriff?"
Mickey giggled. "But back then you were fat."
"Fit enough to punch a man to death though. You send Hans Schroeder my regards."
Mickey tossed his napkin back onto his plate and hurrumphed. "This ain't an appropriate topic of conversation for lunch."
As Mickey excused himself to go to the men's room, Eli kept a look out for a red Cadillac. Nucky had told them that was Max 'Boo Boo' Hoff's vehicle. Nucky and Hoff had spoken only yesterday, and Hoff had assured Nucky that the Red and White Diner in Reading was a safe spot – Hoff owned it. There would be no questions. Just to be safe, Eli and Mickey had chosen a booth near the back, away from the other patrons.
Whilst Mickey was away, a white pick-up and a thin fellow on a bicycle rolled into the diner car park, but there was still no sign of a red Caddy.
It was the bicycle man. Or kid. Eli squinted. It would have to be a kid. A kid dressed in a black suit, like an undertaker.
"Are you Eli Thompson?"
"Yeah… who are you?"
"Name's Sydney Carlton, but everyone calls me Kid. I work for Mr Hoff, he sent me in his stead."
She held out a hand to the mystified Eli. Mickey came back, whistling. He stopped when he saw Kid.
"I'm guessing you're Doyle. Hiya, the name is Sydney Carlton, but everyone knows me as Kid. Max Hoff sent me to meet with you."
She held out her hand, but Mickey, much like Eli, was too stunned by her appearance to take it. She shrugged, and put her hands in her pockets. A waitress came up to their booth.
"What can I get for ya Kid? The usual?"
"Sure, thanks Clarice, that would be swell." The older woman scribbled down something on her pad and then waddled away, chewing gum.
Kid didn't wait for an invitation, she simply sat down in the booth, in Mickey's spot. (He chose a new spot next to Eli, both of them opposite her). She took off her black felt bowler hat, revealing long dark hair that was pinned behind her head in a French knot. Her only cosmetics were mascara and face powder. Her angular features, straight brows and solemn expression made Eli think of a falcon, and he smiled slightly. Hoff's falcon, out on a hunt.
"You wear a suit," Mickey blurted. "And ride a bicycle."
"Sure. I'm packing. Hoff's got it sorted with the cops, and folks 'round here know I don't pull out my piece unless Gordon's rats are creeping around. Which isn't very often, not around Hoff's turf. I collect Hoff's debts, and sometimes pick up certain shipments, from the shore."
"But why a bicycle?"
"Can't drive. When I need a car, I got somebody who can drive. Sometimes I hitch a ride with Boo. That's Mr Hoff, to you fellas. Oh hey, thanks Clarice."
Clarice came over with a sarsaparilla. This time Eli couldn't help but smile, looking down at his hands as Clarice took away his plate. The Kid rode a bike and drank sarsaparilla. Jesus Christ.
"Uh huh." Mickey nodded, but he still looked perplexed. Eli decided to take over and do the talking.
"We're here on behalf of Nucky Thompson. He wants to do business with Hoff. Waxey Gordon's getting greedy."
"He has been sweating since you fellas put Rothstein, and by extension, Rothstein's pockets, in the hoosegow after the Battle of the Boardwalk."
"'Battle of the Boardwalk'. Is that what folks call it around here?"
"Well, it's what I called it first. It made Boo Boo laugh, now that's what he calls it. Now it's what everyone calls it."
The subtext was not lost on Eli. He flicked his eyes towards Mickey. Mickey still looked like somebody had banged him on the head with a hammer. Whether it was Kid's cross-dressing or the sheer amount of beef sandwich he'd consumed, he'd shut down for the day.
"Rothstein's getting out in a week. You and Boo could use a friend against Waxey."
"Nucky strikes me as a 'fairweather friend' kinda guy. Seems more like he needs bodies to shield Rothstein's bullets," said Kid, sneering slightly. She took a sip of her sarsaparilla. Eli was still on the fence as to whether she was creepy or comical. He decided to settle on both.
"Look. You scratch our back, we scratch yours. We help you against Waxey, you help us against Rothstein. Everyone wins, as far as I can see."
"Nucky doesn't give a tin shit about anybody winning except himself. He's pissing his britches about Rothstein and Waxey teaming up and getting revenge for that brewery debacle, and so now he wants to be pals by trading Pimms. Never mind all the blood that's been shed in battles for Jewtown territory since Horvitz kicked the bucket. Didn't hear a peep out of him then."
Kid didn't even talk like regular woman. Whilst other women had sweet, high pitched voices, Kid spoke at a rat-a-tat clip even as her face remained cool and stony.
"It's not just liquor. He'll happily pay Hoff for powder."
'Powder' being the code word for cocaine.
"Money for powder isn't what Boo is after, and you know it."
"Nucky will also give him a casino on the Boardwalk."
"And in return Boo will give him a 'get well soon' card when he gets his ass kicked."
"You speak for Hoff?"
"Sure, I'm his lackey that runs his errands. What are you two to Thompson? Carrier pigeons?"
You little shit, Eli thought to himself, watching Kid as she drained her glass. Pigeon or falcon, she knew something they didn't.
"Hoff will never get the brewery."
"Then I bid you good day."
"Rothstein and Waxey together, they won't just come after Nucky, they'll come for you too."
"Me? They'll come for me? I'm just a kid on a bicycle, drinking a soda. I don't speak for Hoff."
"Then let us speak to him!"
Eli had spoken louder than he'd meant to, and some people turned around to stare. Kid's expression didn't change. Mickey touched him on the shoulder, and Eli shrugged it off. His neck was red, and his ears were burning. It had been six months after the events of Margate Sands, and Atlantic City was still vulnerable. Chicago was preoccupied with a gang war between the North and the South, and New York was a powder keg. Luciano and Lansky had expanded their territory into the Garment District after partnering up with 'Dopey' Ben Fein, and were rumoured to be casting their gaze towards Hell's Kitchen, ruled by the influential Owney Madden. Worse, Masseria had gone quiet. He was biding his time.
And now Rothstein was out of jail, thanks to the wily Bill Fallon. Whoever won out of the upcoming melee that was predicted to erupt between Rothstein, Masseria, and the Garment District gang was bound to strike Atlantic City sooner or later. Nucky had very few friends in New York.
So, Eli and Mickey had been instructed to make friends with Max 'Boo Boo' Hoff over in Philadelphia. A simple plan, if not for the girl who dressed and spoke like a man twice her age opposite them. She wasn't an adolescent, but she couldn't have been anything over twenty.
She reached into her pocket, and pulled out a carefully folded piece of paper, and some change. She counted out two nickels and placed it on the table, for her soda. Then she slid over the piece of paper two them.
"Mr Hoff is having a party this Saturday. I strongly suggest you attend. Nucky Thompson as well. Gentlemen."
She picked up her hat, and tipped it to them before exiting the diner. Mickey finally spoke as Eli studied the details on the invitation she'd given them.
"She planned that."
"She planned to give us the invitation all along. Nucky should come to the party."
"Nucky wants to follow up this lead of Chalky's. Narcisse, in Harlem."
"He'd be better off seeing Hoff in Philly."
Eli committed the invitation to memory and then ripped it up, glaring at Mickey.
"Because Hoff is in league with Rothstein."
The other man stated it so casually that Eli had to let his words sink in.
"What? How the fuck did you know that?"
"You and I was there when Nucky talked to Hoff on the phone. He never mentioned Rothstein and Waxey – she mentioned Rothstein and Waxey. All we know is that Hoff is having a pissing contest with Waxey and wants Mellon's brewery. We don't know that Waxey and Rothstein are still workin' together. Before this meetin', that was just a guess for us, given their history. But she played it as fact. And you fell for it."
"That little shit," Eli breathed. "That's their fucking ace in the hole."
"Yup." Mickey leant back and linked his fingers across his stomach. "They know Waxey won't work with Nucky, but now they knows that Nucky and Rothstein want to work with them. It's just a matter of who dangles the bigger carrot."
Mickey smiled at Eli, who was looking at him with a mixture of amusement and annoyance.
"You crafty asshole. Letting her play me."
"Yeah." He turned to the window, and his giggles grew higher pitched.
"Look at her pedal on her bicycle!"
Even though Max 'Boo Boo' Hoff was a real person that operated out of Philadelphia, Kid is obviously fictional. I just really wanted to have a female gangster in the story. Even though Hoff was a bootlegger, he may not have dealt in cocaine, I just put that in the story as it may have a role to play later on. Also, I can't for the damn life of me remember what the heck Mellon's brewery was actually called, so, if anyone could help me out in the reviews, that would be great.