(Here's a beta sample of a possible Nightcrawler saga...send us your comments!)
Over a half century ago, New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin ran a series on a mysterious Mob boss known as Il Occhio. Although Breslin attributed enormous power and frightening bloodlust to the man, there was no proof that he was anything but a fictitious character symbolizing the dark side of the Godfather mobs of the Seventies. It was not until the Eighties when brutal killers like John Gotti and Nicky Scarfo rose to power did the glamor and mystique of the Mob fade away.
Peter Ruggiero felt as if he was going to pick up where Breslin left off with his series on Al the Blond. It was a chilling look into the New York underworld, only social media left little conjecture as to the personage being discussed. After the incarceration of Angelo “The Blade” Vacirca, there was a power vacuum in the Rossini Mob that most felt was going to be filled by Alastair Piedmont. Al the Blond had never been arrested or charged with a crime, but his name was on numerous State and Federal lists of racketeering suspects. He was under the microscope, but his network was so impenetrable that no one could even determine who his lieutenants were. Vito Scafati and Guido Rovigo were mentioned, but even they seemed as occasional contacts at best.
Ruggiero was a tall, attractive man who many thought of as effete. Yet he fancied himself an intellectual and was at home among the rich and famous and gangster types alike. His placid and sociable demeanor belied his incisive and sometimes scathing editorial style. He made more than a few enemies among those who were shredded by Peter after unwittingly taking him into their confidence. Some of these were acquaintances of Al the Blond who made the grievous blunder of sharing more than they should have.
Shortly after the Thinker had left the office of Walt Tkaczuk, Peter Ruggiero was powering down his PC for the night. He was feeling pretty cocksure after his tenth installment featuring Al the Blond hit the presses. The editors of The Inquisitor were certain that sales would begin soaring when the column pieces gave way to a feature series. His Rugg Ratt column was already the talk of the town, and the new Ruggiero Rap was predicted to become the newspaper series of the year.
He had just buffed his gold-rimmed glasses and put them back on when he saw the two figures stepping through the doorway of his office. They looked like a couple of overdressed college teens with a strangely chilly demeanor. One of the last sights he would ever remember was their doll-like lifeless eyes.
“This place is closed,” Peter said sternly though he broke a cold sweat upon realizing something was terribly wrong here. They walked in and leaned up against the wall, the black-dressed kids waiting for him to speak. “You can check in with security at the desk in the lobby. They can help get you where you need to be.”
“They’re not there,” the blonde girl replied. “I think they’re kinda tied up in the ladies’ room.” “Well, we’ve got roving security,” Peter switched on his desktop intercom. “They can come and escort you back downstairs.”
“See, I told you,” the pale young man said softly.
“Yeah, so?” she replied nonchalantly.
Peter watched with trepidation as the teens gazed down the hall through the doorway. They seemed as if waiting for a bus. Eventually they heard the elevator door in the hallway and the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps.
“Everything okay, Mr. Ruggiero?”
“These two appear to be lost. I told them you could escort them back to the lobby.”
“Sure can,” the strapping Puerto Rican guard replied. “Come on, we’ll take you back downstairs.”
“Screw you,” the blonde said tersely.
“Excuse me?” the hulking black guard asked.
At once the black-leathered blonde launched a lightning front kick into the Puerto Rican’s groin. The black man was startled but lunged for her, running right into a high-heeled roundhouse kick that nearly broke his jaw. She charged into them with a flurry of elbows and knees, dropping them to the carpet where she rendered them unconscious with a vicious stomping.
“What the hell do you want?” Peter tried to appear belligerent.
“That column you’ve been writing,” the blonde replied. “You’ve been printing lies that are hurting lots of good people. You need to go on vacation for a while. Maybe take a leave of absence.”
“Look, you don’t realize how much trouble you’re already in,” Peter flared. “You’d better get out now before it gets any worse.”
“See, I told you he wouldn’t listen,” the blonde murmured.
“Yeah, I was hoping he would.”
“Okay, look, I’m gonna call an ambulance. It’ll probably take them about ten minutes to get here,” Peter picked his cell phone off the desk.
“Don’t do that,” the raven-haired kid entreated him.
Just as Peter raised the phone to his lips, the young man swung across the desk and smashed the device into his teeth. Peter dropped the phone as the kid grabbed his lapels and pulled him over the desk. The reporter landed painfully on his knees as his assailant grabbed his hair and slammed the back of his head against the edge of the desk.
“You would’ve probably lied to us anyway,” the kid produced a small vial from his inside jacket pocket and unscrewed the cap with one hand. “You wouldn’t have gone nowhere.”
Peter tried to rise but the attacker gave him an excruciating kick to the groin. The journalist was paralyzed with pain as the kid yanked his head back, pinning it to the top of the desk.
“Sorry about this,” the young man said before pouring the contents of the vial into Peter’s eyes.
Peter let loose a deafening scream as the sulfuric acid burned through his eyeballs. The assailant pulled out a small sack into which he put the vial and the small cap.
“Wipe your fingers,” the blonde said as Peter began losing consciousness.
“I’ll be okay,” the young man replied as they stepped past the fallen guards and headed for the elevator.