CD15: Corridor Boys/Men in Suits

Fight the power! Close the Hellmouth! 

In which five ageing whitey whitebreads of the 10s pretend to be young hip black dudes of the 70s

Warning: taken out of context this post contains offensive material.

The White Hats

Jon “Doc” Samedy, the Haitian migrant: about 5’9 though stooped and limping. His strangely carved stick is a coco macaque and he wields power over loa and less friendly spirits. He is the brains and medic.

Victor “Vic” Creed, the scarred veteran: about 6’6 and bulky with it. He is the muscle.

Roosevelt ‘Arby’ Brown, about 5’7 and lithe. He is the trickster.

Stevie “the Cutter” Cutter, about 6’, a fast-handed ex-boxer. He is muscle and handyman.

Scene: Little Haiti

Theme: Get up offa that thing

Cutter, Vic and Arby are bringing Jon “Doc” Samedy up to date:

“They’s a gang pushing shit on more corners, looking to roll up on the Rolling 40s turf over to Hough. We got to do somethin’! We got to raise up!”

Which is pretty much how Asha told it, originally. Doc looks like “I just got outta one hospital bed, you gon’ put me right back again” but is on board. He knows Maman would want him to help. After all, Asha’s still house-guesting over to Maman’s place.

Although Asha didn’t have a lot more information, she did have the names of three lieutenants, and the hearsay that they don’t get on:

  • Little Cyprus
  • Belly-button
  • Snicky-Bo

The area they cover is right across Central’s Northeast and even into Fairfax. It’s just about the white hats’ home turf.

“I c’n aks aroun’, Vic offers, “see what-all I can find about these chumps.”

“Oh – and I can check with Titus and Cherry,” Arby pipes up, recalling his grifter thug and sidekick Titus Johnson, and Cherry, one of Silky’s girls that likes Arby.

“Now, how’s your snitch-line,” Cutter asks Arby, kind of staring through half-closed eyes.

[Arby has a reliable contact as a trade-off quality for the obligation of snitching for the contact. The CBI’s remit is to investigate criminal behaviour in the various police agencies in the county. No-one likes a snitch.]

“Aw, same as usual, I druther not be doin’ it,” Arby disclaims. He’s not interested in calling the CBI to see if they heard if these gangsters are paying off the local PD.

“I guess that leaves you an’ me, talking to the Man,” Cutter suggests to Doc. Who looks puzzled.

“Boddington, the old guy in the beat-up cop car,” he elaborates. “He wants to bring us on his team, so they’s a trade.

“I ain’t seen no mention of that massacre out to the island, so I tell Boddington ’bout that.”

[Boddington, sole charge of the county’s ‘Black Cat’ department, is a general contact for all the white hats, but Steve “the Cutter” feels the closest connection because it was principally he that Boddington tricked in order to set up the initial meeting.]

Scene: Down towards the tracks

Theme: Sweetback’s theme

“Hey Arby, I hear Moroni the mob bastard is looking for ya.”

Arby waves acknowledgment nervously and rolls on. He’s getting to Moroni’s home ground, looking for Titus. There’s no reason Moroni should be looking for him – it’s been a solid two months since Arby won big.

[Moroni runs or is involved in the local gambling scene. He acts as a go-between for his Little Italy contacts, who dislike anything to do with the Black scene.]

He gets the same message from a couple more brothers in the next half hour. By the time he sees Titus he’s sweating something awful, in spite of the chill mist.

“Arby! ‘Bout time brother! Let’s get set-up!” Titus greets him.

“Aw man, I flush! Don’t need no truck wit’ the cards and such trash!” Arby boasts, and when Titus starts complaining, slips him a Jackson.

[Arby’s player has the impression he still has plenty of money. I’m not sure why. I’ve said a number of times that some time has passed since he scored. But the $20 is not enough to drop Arby’s Wealth down on its own. It stays at a comfortable zero.]

“A $20!!!! Ho-leee shit!!! Man, I am so rich – I gots to get me a drink!”

Arby has no choice other than to scramble after Titus as he vanishes in the direction of the nearest liquor-store. Where he’s greeted with traditional welcome:

“You gets yo’ lazy black ass outin’ here, ‘less you gots money!”

“I got money! Uh-huh! I’m loaded! Uh-huh!”

Holding the Jackson aloft like it’s a football trophy Titus swaggers in, followed by a number of equally worthless layabouts who’ve been loitering in hopes of putting a touch on someone.

“Yo Arby m’man,” one greets the skinny grifter, “I hear Moroni the mob bastard wants you.”

“Yeah, but what’s he want wit’ me?”

“Man, he ’bout to open yo’ guts out! He planning ta operate wit’ a blunt spoon!”

Arby leaves, but fast!

Scene: Drop-in Shelter annex of the Karamu

Theme: Shaft’s theme

Vic sips tea with the shelter director, a tough but kindly and motherly woman who wears the picture of Martin Luther King Jr in a locket under her shirt, or so it’s said. She’s real pleased at how he’s been doing, but other than agreeing that she has heard of a local gang expanding, has nothing to add.

He walks back through the gang turf, but to his eye, nothing looks out of place. People steer clear of him as usual, and looks at him are out of corner of eye. Ain’t no-one willing to lock eyes with him.

He reminds himself he should call round to see his pops. The furniture shop went out of business real quick. And Vic has mostly been staying at his moms, so hasn’t even seen his sis and niece in weeks.

[Vic has Reliable Contacts, a one-point quality, but it’s still up to the player to name where and who he’s trying now we’ve had a solid season to see the people they know. The shelter network is an excellent mix of street knowledge, but that may not have been quite the right level to try.

Vic has no Crime skill so his Perception is tested, and fails, twice, as he walks through the gang turf.]

Scene: New Terminal

Theme: Uptight (everything’s all right)

Boddington carries with him an aura of shabbiness and cigarette ash. He slides his wide ass onto a diner stool and Cutter slides in alongside and buys another sub. Boddington tries an affable salute:

“What’s up, my brother?”

“You ain’t never gonna be black enough to say that, even over the phone, man.”

While Boddington pretends to take notes on a race form, he’s jotting down Cutter’s report.

He denies any knowledge of local kickbacks but agrees to sniff round, cautiously, and get word back through the Brother Gloves gym. He doesn’t seem too pleased about how none of the white hats let him know about the island caper in advance. Growls something about not being there to clean up after.

“By the way – speaking of cleaning up messes – you see this latest on Farmatec?” Boddington asks, folding back the paper again to the inside pages.

Cutter has a quick look, grunts and pushes it over to Doc. It’s about two column inches and starts:

High Flyer Falls, Flees

Following a warrant granted by the County Prosecutor’s office, CPD today issued an All Points Bulletin for the detention for questioning of Nicholette de la Fleur, in connexion with the mass poisoning of Farmatec Sales Employees. De la Fleur had held the position of Sales Director with the prestigious local pharmaceuticals company up until the incident last July.

Asked for comment, Farmatec CEO Curtis Silverman said: “Farmatec can only deeply regret that what was clearly a nervous breakdown resulted in so many of our most valued asset, our staff, being troubled by ailments caused by introduction….”

The print is small and the diner not well lit. Doc leaves it there. Boddington reclaims his paper and leaves.

Doc and Cutter agree to fold back to Little Haiti, since they can get in any time with Doc. On the way back, Cutter nudges Doc along to the idea of heading back to his Maman’s and talking to Asha. Some information about why she got beaten up that time would be real handy, and maybe what this latest fuss is really about.

[An intelligent use of a Contact and striking the right note with them means no roll is needed. I do ask for a Perception check, for both white hats, while reading the fine print. Both fall short and miss a useful clue.]

Scene: Red Light district, down by the tracks

Theme: Silky the pimp

“Arby, sweet man, what you got fo’ me?”

“Hey Cherry, how you been doin’ girl?”

“Oh real good, might’ fine. You lookin’ fine too.”

Arby spots Cherry’s pimp Silky glowering from across the street. He passes Cherry a sawbuck, which she ostentatiously tucks away then snuggles close again.

Cherry has little to add to Arby’s stock of knowledge, except the gang is called the Corridor Boys and they customarily use automobiles.

Scene: Little Haiti

All four white hats update one another. Cutter thinks the next useful step – apart from finding out more about Asha’s real motive – is to set up Arby to buy a dime bag then use Doc’s expertise to analyze it.

“You talkin’ bout them Corridor Boys?” the barkeep asks. “They was in other day, hintin’ ’bout insurance.”

“They expanding might’ fast!” the Cutter marvels. “Say – do you already pay some ‘insurance’?”

“Sure, the usual. But it’s not like you can complain you ain’t getting enough p’tection.”

“Well, we do know a guy that could tell us what the deal is, and if the mob care if Corridor Boys horning in,” Cutter reminds Vic.

“Wha – oh, yeah.” Vic grins. “We got to go see what Moroni wants Arby for.”

They sandwich Arby between them and bundle him outside and into Jon’s Plymouth. Then jam him in back betwixt them.

“You got to get wit’ the program, Arby,” Doc calls from the driver’s seat. “A workin’ day for a workin’ day pay. Feet on the ground, mon.”

Flashback: Back in the Ranger Station

“We got the Reservoir covered,” Castro explains. “But the way the Prof explained it, there has to be something uphill again that acts as an agent or catalyst for this doomsday stuff.”

He shrugs, as if unconvinced, and continues:

“Ambler Heights, or Woodhill-Mt. Carmel maybe. He wants feet on the ground up there.”

“OK, OK, we fit that in. ‘S’all part of a monthly gig, right?”

“Damn’ right. You got off easy just dropping Donnie and Marie Kobold out to the park last month.”

Scene: The Boneyard

The bouncer remembers Cutter and nods them in. It’s still early. Some tired businessmen are sinking a few, and some expensive mamas are letting the businessmen get up some Dutch courage.

Cutter leaves word with the barkeep – who is foreign, from Birmingham England of all places – that they want to see Moroni and slips round to the dance-floor side. Then he realizes he’s left Arby untended.

Vic’s just on his second sip of bourbon when he realizes there’s an Arby-size hole beside him. Shrugging, he and Doc join Cutter and wait.

It’s not much fun on this side either. The kids here are too young. The only highlight is when some cat gets so liquored up he does a weird act on the dance floor, ending in some kind of spinning around on his back. The bouncers throw him out pretty quick though.

“That ain’t never gonna catch on,” chuckles Vic.

Scene: Gambling pit, back of the Boneyard

Theme: Money

“So yeah, my people know some people, they may have a job going. They ask me, who do I know, so yeah, I put out word for Roosevelt Brown or Doc Samedy.”

“You notice, he ain’t include us in guys smart enough to talk to,” Cutter mutters to Vic.

“So what’s this other thing?” Doc presses.

Cutter explains about Corridor Boys maybe demanding protection, but Moroni waves away the matter as unimportant – and denies there is such a thing as protection, even though the barkeep at Little Haiti says there is.

Doc decides yes, they are interested in being contacted and they leave it at that.

Scene: Maman’s place, Fairfax

Theme: Soul Man

Unusually, there’s no vehicle in the drive. Doc swings the old Plymouth in and parks. Limps round to the back, as usual. His sleepout is undisturbed, but he can hear someone working ‘way out further back, in the overgrown common lot wherein lies Maman’s special thicket. The whole neighborhood knows it’s Maman’s special territory, so not troubling further, Doc swings his stick up and mounts the back porch. No sign of Asha in the back parlor.

But on entering, he finds Asha in the kitchen-parlor, having a late breakfast, or maybe second breakfast. Maman’s upstairs.

Doc doesn’t learn anything new from Asha, so excusing himself, he heads upstairs. As he gets to the reading-room door Maman summons him in.

Doc plays a cool hand as best he can, but Maman’s mad! She had to find her son was laid up in a hospital bed from Setro, the Deacon that’s undercutting her influence with the Congregation. Having tongue-lashed him over that, Maman hints at a Spring wedding. She doesn’t seem interested in grilling Asha about her motives.

[Doc makes a “sell” test on Intelligence and Influence at -2 and with a good check survives the guilt-trip with no further penalty.]

Scene: Creed place, Fairfax

Theme: Papa was a rolling stone

Vic plays a little ball with his niece, who is too young to know she’s supposed to be afraid of him, and heads on inside, bends down and kisses his sister hi. She reverses her wheelchair and explains she’s having trouble with pops, see if you can get him to see sense.

Vic already heard enough yelling to suspect pops has been on a bender, and sure enough, he’s drinking to stave off the hangover that’s headed his way.

Vic starts off by sharing a drink, then his pops tells him his Uncle been saying he should stand for the local council. Lamenting the fickleness of suppliers and co-sponsors, Creed senior says he might just have to do that. Vic gets mad and warns his pops not to have anything to do with his brother. Then he gets madder when his pops turns down some money. He storms out, slamming the door.

[I’m short-changing Vic’s player here, this scene features some excellent role-playing, earning him the roleplaying xp at end of session. Vic adds the drawback ‘dependents’ to his already-long list, because now he knows his father and sister have no income.]

Scene: Soul Food Diner, near Brother Gloves

Theme: Green Onions

“So, the way I check it out, they’s only two football teams in it. See, I don’t feature them Blues out of the Jesuits college. That leaves the Yellow Jackets and the Spartans.

“Yellow Jackets, they steady and on the im-prove. Coach Les, he known for grit, not show. Now when we come to the Spartans – ”  and here Cutter pauses to make sure the others are paying attention – “they having a season outta nowhere. Early rushes are looking like season record material. Some brothers sayin’ it’s cuz Case Western brung in mo’ men of color, but I leave it to you – ” and the Cutter breaks off, waving his Sports section expansively and nearly knocking Arby’s chicken wings off the counter.

[Steve has Sports quality so there’s no need for any roll on this. I prepped it before the game. On the other hand he’s no expert researcher so information will be in dribs and drabs.]

“Yeah, those cats be worth a look over,” Vic agrees, and is about to talk over approaches, then Cutter’s distracted by the old guy that does most of the cooking shuffling out holding a phone handset and mumbling for Steve Cutter. He lets Cutter through the counter and Steve drops down a coin for the charge and admits to being Steve Cutter.

“What th’ hell you got into?!” Boddington roars down the phone. “I send the lightest feeler out for word on Corridor Boys and payoffs and two Suits are up in my face! And they got the smell of something Federal!”

“You means to tell me guys with shoeshines costin’ more than yo’ suit are innerested in the Corridor Boys?”

“That’s about the size of it. I can’t tell you more than that.”

“We got to get us a look at the pro-duct these boys shippin'” Cutter remarks once he’s explained this to his fellow white hats. “Time to get your Jones on, Arby.”

Scene: Corridor Boys turf, Central

Theme: Going to a Go-Go

Arby’s prepped by dressing down, and making sure he got a roll of ten bones, not a single sawbuck. He’s got backup for this sting. The Cutter is afoot and out handy; Doc is driving Cutter’s old van, and Vic is hidden in back of it.

He swaggers over to the contact corner, and the young hood there checks him over, tells him to head down to the kid on the corner, then pick up from across the road where that guy is throwing up.

It all goes well up until, halfway across the road, the kid with the dime bag suddenly rolls his eyes and backs off into the alley. And a car races up and skids to a halt and three gangsters jump out, bringing pieces up.

[This scene features a clash between what the player should know and what the character should know. It gets a little awkward. But it’s an ambush anyway, so whether Arby strikes the right tone doesn’t really matter.]

Cutter rolls forward quickly, but seeing he’s outgunned zips into the alley as well. Doc revs the van and swings it round, pointing away. Vic jumps out the back, then seeing how Arby’s racing past already and Steve’s disappeared stage left, jumps right back in.

A couple pieces go off as the van gathers speed. They don’t hit anything. Arby makes a running leap into the van’s front passenger bay, and Doc grabs him.

[I deliver the “yeehaah” I promised early on in the session as Arby (with the aid of a drama point) makes a superhuman dive in.]

Then Doc makes a spectacular handbrake stop [another drama point well-spent!] and turn to avoid an intersecting Police Cruiser, and Vic and Arby are rammed into the seat backs by the sudden halt. By the time they sort out what’s going on, police guns are trained on them and they have no choice but to accept the cuffs or be shot to death.

[Another ambush, that they could not have avoided, but this has a different aim. Or aims.]

Cutter is outside of the police cordon when it happens, but sees enough of what goes on. He heads for a phone booth. He can’t afford to get too close: the alley he dived down earlier was the self-same alley the dealer kid ducked back in; and he’s got the dime bag he found at the scene burning a hole in his pants pocket.

[Strategic spending of a drama point for ‘Plot Twist’ by which a clue is found.]

Cleo advises him to call Kinzey Corp, explain the situation, and cash in that promise to help. Cutter knows in his bones that Kinzey Corp will love the excuse to have a favour up on them, but it’s still good advice. He calls. The Kinzey Corp legal secretary he’s put through to doesn’t seem familiar with the concept of a cop fortress where anything can happen to a black man, but takes the address down and says someone will be there within the hour.

Scene: Holding cells/Interview room, ‘the fortress’ on Euclid

Theme: Shakey ground

The two arresting officers, a smart cop name of Meglich and a big cop name of Jacovich, both Polacks or something from Slavic Village, seem pretty square. They even back Drago off when he and the other dirty cops start pressing in with nightsticks. Vic is suitably impressed.

The three white hats are handed on for processing to a tired senior sergeant who again, warns the other cops not to get ideas about the holding cell.

Within a short time he’s back: “how did you guys lawyer up so fast?” he asks, sounding surprised. Not as surprised as the three in cell, since they haven’t been allowed a phone call yet.

The interview room they are sat down in is pretty clean, for this precinct. An old white guy with silver suit and silver hair is shown in. He looks like a fat-cat whitey lawyer. But the message he carries is:

“My clients want to show goodwill and demonstrate something at the same time. You’ll be able to reclaim your belongings from Lost Property after this. But just bear in mind what can be made to happen.

“Mr. Moroni tells us you are interested in a job. That’s excellent. Our previous agent, a ‘Jim’ has had to move along. And we do have at least one other article we wish… recovered. So we’ll be in touch.”

“Ah… how will we get in touch if we need to…?” Doc asks.

“Hmm, well in the unlikely event that should happen, contact Mr. Moroni and tell him you wish to speak to the Bianchis.”

[As he was farewelling the white hats last session Jim did almost name the Bianchis. I don’t know if anyone picked it up. Now the name is right out front and center.]

Scene: Maman’s place, Fairfax

Theme: Trouble Man

Steve strides up the driveway, wondering about his reception. He heads over to the front door and knocks. After a time, a short, rather unhealthy-looking cat opens it.

After dissing him a little for knocking as though he company, the cat shows him through to the kitchen parlor where Asha is making a supper. Cutter hasn’t eaten since long before the double ambush, and his gut growls up a storm.

While he chows down a bowl of something good, he eyes Asha deciding what line to take. Then he goes for the direct approach.

“We know you working with some Suits, girl. What I wants to know is, Asha, who da man?”

“When I first met you I told you I do freelance work for an Agency. They get me to do some chores sometimes. Other times I’m my own agent.”

“But Asha, who da man?”

“CIA.”

We had a full session – I’ve actually stopped a little shy of where we got to –  and the vibe was good. The ‘chart of madness’ that represents Arby’s sketch of everything he saw on his father’s wall back in episode one is getting more and closer study. If they can ignore the many distractions and solve all of it, that’s the end of the campaign.

Although the Deadly 7 adventure (by Panik Productions and available thru RPGNow/DriveThruRPG) is still powering the overall story, in this session I have used only generic ‘consequences’ suggested by the writer. 

The other thing I’ve done this session is introduce a couple more of Les Roberts’ Cleveland characters from back in their younger days. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while but didn’t want to confuse the ‘dirty cops’ sub-thread.

Next session should feature more about the Corridor Boys, or at least more about the reason the Corridor Boys were so ready for the white hats. Stay tuned!

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