“Mabel, babe, would you like to accompany me for a belt or two? There’s a lovely place I could show ya.” he offered, leaning over a brunette girl, essentially trapping her against the wall.
“Sorry, Gid, I gotta go help my uncle.” she replied, shuffling awkwardly. “A-actually, my jitney's just over there, so I gotta go…”
“Don't be like that, babe. Can I at least get a check while I got ya here?” he offered, pressing closer.
“Oy, Gideon! She said bank’s closed, back off.” another guy exclaimed, shoving Gideon off of the girl. “You okay, Mabel?” he asked her, and she just nodded, stepping a bit behind him.
Gideon scoffed, but stepped back anyway, a smile still on his face. “Everything’s copacetic here, I don’t got any beef with ya’.” he said, hands in the air in a placating gesture. “See ya round, doll.” He left, winking at Mabel as he did, and she shuddered in relief once the man had left.
“Thanks, bro-bro.” she said once Gideon was out of sight.
“No problem, Mabel. Just trying to keep that cake-eater offa you. You don't need that kind of romance.” he returned.
“Yeah, yeah. Let's just get in our old jalopy and go. We don't need the bulls after us and John Barleycorn's not gonna deliver himself.” She brushed off the front of her dress, bounding towards their car once she was satisfied.
He just rolled his eyes, following his sister into the car.
“M-M-Mabel! Slow, slow down!” he yelled, holding onto his hat with one hand, his other a death grip on his seat.
Mabel just laughed, slapping his arm. “Quit being such a flat tire, Mason! Don’t cast a cat, we’re here!” she said, swerving right and pulling into a driveway, stopping abruptly in front of a dilapidated shack.
“Oh, that’s just Jake.” Mason mumbled sarcastically, opening the driver side door and collapsing on the ground in a heap of gangly limbs.
His sister got out on the other side, and went around the back. She opened up the trunk, and pulled out four large suitcases. The contents clinked like glass hitting glass, and she set each down quick. She peeked around the side, and rolled her eyes at her brother’s miserable state. “Oy, you gonna upchuck, do it away from the car. Come help me with this hair of the dog.”
Mason groaned, but got up, dusting off his rumpled clothes before thrudging over and grabbing a suitcase.
They lugged them up to the old structure, and Mabel creaked open the old screen door that looked like it hadn’t been replaced since the 1880s. He laughed a little at his own joke as he followed his sister into the dark house, stepping over the rotted through patch in front of the door on habit.
“Grunkle Stan! We’re here!” Mabel called, coming further into the shack until she came to the lightswitch, flicking it on to find their great uncle passed out on the couch, while the radio quietly played static. She chuckled, and set her suitcases down by the steps before walking over to their grunkle. “Hey, Dip, he’s totally bent!” she said, gesturing to the four empty mason jars scattered around the couch and old man.
Mason sighed, setting his suitcases down by Mabel’s. “That he is. I wonder if he had a close call with the bulls?”
“That’s none of your beeswax.” Stan mumbled, before passing out again.
“Yep, he was nearly pinched.” Mabel confirmed, a little half-smirk on her face. “C’mon, let’s get ol’ Barleycorn downstairs, I wanna catch a talky before we gotta run the Shack tonight.”
“Alright, alright, cool your cylinders. Let’s go.” He grabbed his suitcases, making his way to the old bookshelf, and set one down; pulling out a rather boring novel on the laws of dog-owning, as well as one on how to make cakes, and a manual on how to fix a Model-T. He stepped back, and the bookcase swung to the side, and he thanked his other great-uncle’s ingenuity again. He hefted up the suitcase again, the jars inside clanking noisily as he made his way down the hidden staircase, his sister right behind him.
At the bottom of the stairs, he was greeted with a near disaster; the two employees Stan hired who knew about their ‘extracurriculars’ were balancing several chairs and cups, about to topple over.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! What’s going on here?! Ramirez, put those chairs down! We can’t use those for serving trays, or whatever you were tryin’ta use them for! Gwen, sweetie, put down the cups!”
“Oh, hey boss.” Ramirez greeted, setting down the three chairs he was balancing in his arms, taking the glasses off of them and settling them on the nearest table.
Gwen just chuckled, placing her two stacks of serving trays and drinks down, not spilling one. “Sorry, Dip. I was just trying to see if Soos was as much a he-man as he seems, but it didn’t really work out.” She reached up, gently transferring the tray of drinks on her head to her hands, which she set down next to the other two.
“We finished the inventory, and set up a place for the new stock.” Ramirez summarized, coming over to grab a suitcase each from Mason and Mabel.
Gwen sighed, tugging at her short black hair. “I gotta re-dye my hair soon, the red’s showing.”
“I’ll help you with that in a bit. I gotta get more dye anyhow.” Mabel offered, and Gwen gave her a grateful smile.
“Thanks. As a thank you, wanna catch one of the talkies playing at Determined’s theater? My treat!” Gwen offered, fixing her sea-green dress.
“Yeah, sounds great! Let’s just put this ‘shine away, yeah?”
The two girls continued to talk as they went in the back, and when the boys followed, the four of them filled the air with the sounds of talking and the clinking of glass.
A bulb flickered in the old office, and he sighed as he looked over the papers in front of him one more time. The faces of several criminals stared back, and he groaned loudly.
Thirty-seven bootleggers captured, detained, and in prison, and yet the flow of illegal drink wasn’t slowing.
In fact, it seems like it’s speeding up !
He pulled on his hair in frustration, flipping shut the manilla folder containing the profiles. He grabbed a second folder, pulling it towards him and opening it up. There weren’t any pictures attached to the file, which wasn’t unusual for these types of cases. As he flipped through the file, a paper scrap slipped out.
He nearly threw it out, but noticed some writing on the back of it.
Follow up- Mystery Shack
Smiling a bit to himself, he hummed a part of a tune that even he couldn’t really place, and stuck it right in the front of the file.
Looks like he had a lead.