John Armstrong 50 results

John Armstrong – aka Buck Cherry (before someone bought the name) – is a writer, reporter, musician and author who spent time haunting the entertainment department at The Vancouver Sun.

And so it ends… with a bang.

Fiction: Mob Rule - Part 49 The family feud finally explodes in a hailstorm of bullets and foaming blood on the front lawns of Hyannis as Jack and his mob brothers storm the Kennedy castle By John Armstrong We got off the highway and headed toward Marchant Avenue, the road the compound lays on. Just before the turn for the long driveway I waved them to a halt again and got back out, standing in the street and directing the trucks down the road toward their respective “points of insertion”, as Beppe put it.Then I stood there looking at my watch. At two minutes to five, in the first misty light of dawn and the fog off the Atlantic still swirling around us, I got back in and waved our own group forward and into position. Then we waited again, listening to birds chattering in the trees.A car came down the road and slowed to see what was going on. Our driver pulled his gun from under his jacket and waved the driver through. Just as he passed, the first semi in our group ...

A Last Supper with Lansky

Mob Rule: Part 48 An army of mafia foot soldiers file into semitrailers for a final shootout at the Kennedy corral By John Armstrong The car with Meyer, Frank and I drove up alongside the convoy on the wrong side of the road and pulled in at the head of our army. It was an impressive sight – I just hoped it was enough, and I said so.“Don’t worry about that,” Meyer said. “I got a surprise for you, and for Old Joe, too.”I looked at him, waiting for more and he just smiled back.“Well, give. What is it?"He just smiled some more and said, “Then it wouldn’t be a surprise. But don’t worry, you’re gonna like it.” Then he squeezed Frank’s knee and said, “Adoro I piani be risusciti, eh?” which means “I love it when a plan comes together” and started laughing to himself as if it was the funniest thing in the world.Frank said, “Don’t look at me, Jackie. I stopped trying to figure this guy out before you were born.”So down the ...

Countdown to Confrontation

Mob Rule: Part 47 A presidential bid is about to get bloody as the bosses from the Big Apple face off against the boys from Beantown's brassiest, classiest and gassiest family, The Kennedys By John Armstrong It all came together fast, fast enough to scare me. Call me cynical but I have a basic mistrust of anything that goes too smoothly. It usually means there’s a joker in the deck, ready to pop up and laugh at you when things fall apart. But I looked over my work and couldn’t see where it was, if it was there at all.There was one thing I could see laying in the weeds and ready to bite us, but there was little I could do about it.We were moving as quickly as we could, not least because we had no way to house and feed 2,000-plus soldiers even if we wanted to, and the plan was to sign them up and then move them out almost immediately. So with all this speed did we have the element of surprise?Not on your life. You can’t keep the raising of an army quiet, especia...

Assembling nations for a New World war

Fiction: Mob Rule - Part 46 Still reeling from the road trip down South, Jack and Vanessa debrief the bosses on the Kennedys' collusion with the British Prime Minister By John Armstrong She looked at me and I looked right back at her and gave the age-old “Who, me?” shoulder-shrug. She hitched hers in resignation and sighed.“I was sent here by my father, the British P.M., who knows Joe Kennedy from decades ago, to see if it was possible to recruit Jack to our cause. Then we fell in love and I met the Kennedys and everything else and … here we are. Now I need to get hold of my father and tell him to stay well clear of those people. That’s it, in a nutshell.”In modern slaughterhouses, instead of a sledgehammer, they now use an electric gun with a retractable bolt. As the steer comes through the chute onto the conveyor belt in the killing room, a man steps up beside it, puts the gun to the cow’s head and pulls the trigger while Bossie is still considering ...

A hairy homecoming

Fiction: Mob Rule - Part 45 Back in the arms of the armed and dangerous in New York, Jack learns the gang war that started before he left on the campaign trail has been smouldering ever since By John Armstrong It was clear sailing the rest of the way, straight through on the old highway past Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia. By the time we hit DC, the road was in even better shape and we made fine time, turning heads as Brown Lightning roared past shining, chrome-dripping newer cars like they were parked by the side of the road.It was a good thing, too, because we were stone-broke. The Morrisville Bridge over the Delaware into New Jersey took the last of our money and we were still short the full price. Vanessa got us through, turning her purse upside down, shaking it to prove we really had nothing left and batting big eyes at the poor man, a hitch in her voice and a tremble in her shoulders warning of imminent tears. He offered her a Kleenex and waved us through. He ...

Burning out the worry circuit

Fiction: Mob Rule - Part 44 After hightailing it out of the South in a moonshine-mobile, Jack and Vanessa head back to Yankee town pondering a pile of worst-case scenarios By John Armstrong It was beautiful day in early fall, and since no one had told the Sun or bees or the birds or the flowers and trees, they carried on as if it were still late August and the air came through the open windows like perfume. It was warm enough for shirtsleeves but I kept my cotton work jacket on over a sleeveless undershirt, what we call in New York a ‘guinea tee.” I would have shucked the jacket but it covered up my shoulder holsters. Just before we left, Cooter advised me that if we were planning on sleeping in the car, it was best to be ready: “There’s people out on the road that will kill you just for practice, and you’re travelling with a good-looking young woman.” He gave me knowing look. “If I was you, I’d shoot first and apologize later.”It was hard to imagine on a day ...

Hitting the road in a Hupmobile

Mob Rule: Part 43 After turning pruny in a bucket of dishwater, Jack realizes he needs to get back to New York City and touch base with his estranged bosses before he's either killed by his own clan, or declared President   By John Armstrong That said, I wasn’t planning on staying forever. While we dawdled, our bus passes had expired and at night I tried to figure out how long it would take us to save enough to get North. In my less optimistic moments I had visions of ending up like the dirt farmers Vanessa served meals to in every day – too poor to do anything else but keep going the way they were. (I couldn’t count how many times I heard the joke about the farmer who inherited a million dollars and was asked what he planned to do with it – “Reckon I’ll just keep farming till it’s all gone.”) Even working a 14-hour day, after Cooter took off his (more than reasonable) charge for room and board, we had about enough for cigarettes and the occasional trolley ...

Baptized in dishwater

Mob Rule: Part 42 On the run and low on funds, Jack and Vanessa hunker down in a roadside diner and discover the unsung joys of a short-order life and red-eye gravy By John Armstrong I have to say, if you’ve ever complained that you had no time to ponder life’s mysteries, get a job as a dishwasher in a busy lunchroom. Once you get into the swing of it, your hands learn the job and most of your mind is free to contemplate and wander where it will. It’s also sort of a non-stop process — a room full of hungry customers can dirty plates and cups just as fast as you can wash them so you soon forget any crazy ideas like “catching up” and just settle into a machinelike routine of dip, scrub, rinse, stack and repeat. The kitchen clock was on the wall behind me so I had no clue what time it was and I was honestly surprised when Cooter tapped my shoulder and said, “Hang up your brush. Time to eat.”It was just past three and Lurlene had hung the closed sign on the ...

Stalls, but no loitering

Mob Rule: Part 41 On the run from old Joe Kennedy and the D.C. spin parade, Jack and Vanessa hole up in Savannah in a vain search for relief By John Armstrong I was prepared when we got to Savannah, not that it did me any good. There were two pay phones, one out of order and the other in use by a man with two old cloth shopping bags at his feet who looked as badly off as we were. I shuffled and danced and muttered behind him in an agony of impatience but he just stood there saying “Ummm-hmmm” every few seconds. By his reaction, whatever they were telling him wasn’t terribly exciting but he seemed determined to hear all of it. At one point he pulled the phone away and I thought he was going to hang up but he was just changing ears.I was anxious to get the phone but I was also hopping back and forth on my feet while I waited because our bus had no toilet on it, and it had been a long time since Tallahassee. I considered solving both problems at once, just unzipping right ...

Jack and Vanessa get out of Dodge

Mob Rule: Part 40 When Jack realizes he's stuck between The Kennedys and his old mob buddies back in New York, he makes a bold squeeze play to abandon the Presidential campaign trail and return to the family fold By John Armstrong So now I was in the middle of a triple-cross, because surely the last thing Meyer and Frank expected was for me to come home having made a side deal with one of my co-conspirators.  But, like Sidney said, this was a game where the rules changed while you played.It wouldn’t matter anyway unless I figured out how to excuse Vanessa and myself from this party without getting shot. I had to keep myself ready for any opportunity to get a small head start on them, even a few hours. They’d relaxed on watching me so far as I’d noticed and as I thought about it I realized why. They’d hamstrung me in the most efficient way possible: I had no money.I’d gotten so used to Sydney or one of the others paying for everything or simply signing for it ...