March 1922: this small event might be a lynch pin connecting the novel 'Riverside Drive' to its follow-up, 'Maiden Lane'. Even crime experiences a butterfly effect.
It took Dervish three whole minutes to kill Fat Tommy. He would have been quicker but his weapon of choice was a book and he was driving at the time. The book was the ‘21 edition of Vernon’s directory. It had just expired so he figured he didn’t need it anymore.
Dervish hung a sharp left onto Talbot Road and the tome slid fast across the dashboard. Without hesitation, he grabbed it and let it fly spine-first at Tommy’s mouth. At first, he just wanted to stop him talking. Tommy wasn’t expecting this: he and Dervish were good friends and Dervish had just bought him a nice lunch. Tommy garbled something that sounded like ‘Jesus’ and floated a dumbfounded look on his soft face. Lucky for Dervish, Tommy was a stranger to the element of surprise.
Quickly measuring the ditch that ran alongside the road, Dervish straightened the wheel. While Tommy was busy counting his teeth with his tongue, Dervish swung the book again, whacking Tommy, the bad dog that he was, even harder across the nose. Dervish had a good arm but he wasn’t about to waste his curve-ball fingers on Tommy’s jaw.
Tommy had told him that Detective Campbell recently cornered him on Pitt Street and was asking a lot of questions. Tommy said it was no big deal but Dervish knew that when Tommy got nervous he blabbed and when people blabbed they hardly ever knew what it was they were saying. And that was all Dervish needed to hear.
After straightening the wheel one more time, Dervish gave Tommy another one across the mouth. Tommy, dazed, tossed his head back and Dervish gave the good book one last swing, driving Tommy’s broken nose into his brains. Dervish hated doing it, but Tommy was dulling his edge.
Dervish was probably distracted a little too long because he let the Studebaker slide gracefully into the soft ditch where it landed on its side. Fat Tommy’s lifeless body lay on top of his, pinning him.
Finally it was quiet. Dervish lay there for a moment, looking up at the heavy sky through the passenger window and the spilled contents of the glove box in the car. He had a moment to wonder where all that crap came from before the warm spring rain started, topping up the melt water in the ditch. He listened to it seep through the cracks and crevices and watched it rise in the car, dark water in a clogged drain. It was cold. Pretty soon he couldn’t feel his fingers and after that he couldn’t feel his legs. He tested his voice and it occurred to him that even if someone heard him, he’d still have a lot of explaining to do.
“Goddamn,” Dervish said to himself, “Goddamn.”