Here’s a sample from the first chapter of A Change In Crime, my Supernatural Suspense set in 1929. It’s got monsters at odds with the Mafia on the streets of Depression-Era Fall River, Massachusetts.
It was just a piece of paper, dated November 27, 1929, but it felt heavier than an anvil. The red ink stamped across the carbon copy of his application to the United States Armed Forces looked greenish-black in the street light. Leo Riley thought it was a nice sickly color to match how useless he felt.
At least skipping dinner hadn’t done him in. The doctor who’d examined him declared him fifteen pounds underweight. There was no way he’d have packed that much on with a plate of Ma’s potatoes and cabbage. Military service was the only way to get them out of this town. He couldn’t afford medical training anywhere, not even with his grades. The Army was picky when there wasn’t a war on.
His feet traveled the street by rote, avoiding loose bricks and cracks in the pavement. That sidewalk would have tripped up anyone else trying to navigate the route at night while staring at a piece of paper. The November air was cool and dry, and there was a hint of smoke to it that was stronger than fireplaces or burning leaves. That ink-inspired greenish-black feeling dropped from his head to his gut. Leo slowed his steps and looked up.
The end of the street was full of smoke, too much smoke. Leo ran past the next two houses, stopping at the building next to his own. By then, he could see it was his house on fire. There was a car parked outside, with two men beside it. The brawniest one wore his suit like a soldier wore a uniform. Even with his back turned, Leo saw the revolver. The man held the gun like Ma held a wooden spoon. He’d never get past that guy.
“I had to set it on fire, Jimmy.” The big man wiped his gun with a handkerchief. “We can’t let the Boss think we did a half-assed job.”
“Jeez, Niccolo.” Jimmy fidgeted with the cap on a hip flask. “You couldn’t even do it, what else were we supposed to do? You think I don’t know how serious this is?”
“Yeah, that’s what I think. You’re making less on milk runs with that Jones Act malarkey. The Boss still thinks your mother is a mark against you. That kid missing is gonna be another one. You don’t want three strikes.”
Niccolo turned to peer at his reflection in the car window, then put the gun in a holster under his arm. Leo had a better view of Jimmy now; he had bronze skin and stood more like a man in an Arrow shirt advert than a Mafioso. He thought about trying to get by them to the house, but Jimmy would see him.
“Bianco’s going to have us all out hunting that kid down, even that irregular, Fallon.” Jimmy jerked his chin in the direction of the park. “Someone’ll take him for a ride.”
“Yeah.” Niccolo wiped the latch on the front gate with the hankie. “But look. I gotta scram. I wasn’t here. They’re iced except for what we already talked about. The fire’s cover for that. That kid Leo’s only part Irish. He stands out, red all over instead of just in the face if you know what I mean. Spitting image of his grandpa. Anyone sees him, the Boss’ll find out he wasn’t here. Best if you tell him yourself.”
Leo’s hand curled around his rejection slip, crumpling paper with a crackling sound. Niccolo turned in his direction, but only to step around the front of the car and walk across the street. Jimmy was looking right at him.