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News & Features » July 2018 » “The Brewery” by Jean Wolfersteig

“The Brewery” by Jean Wolfersteig

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, a bootlegger’s girl goes searching for his hidden stash.

The Brewery
by Jean Wolfersteig
Kingston, New York

We huddled around the card table last night, scheming about dusting outta this joint during the morning bus trip. Like the old days, it was Bobby Cool, Curly, Doc, and me. All but Gentleman Jack—Legs Diamond that is. He always called me Angel.

They say two goons shot Legs in the head and he took the final kiss-off. But I don’t believe it. He’s dodged so many attacks on his life they call him the “clay pigeon of the underworld.” Even Dutch Schultz once asked, “Ain’t there nobody who can shoot this guy so he don’t bounce back?”

The truth is, I miss him. He likes his dames, but he’s stuck on me. And with those getaway sticks, he can swing dance with the best of them. Still, I’m glad Legs faded from his enemies and the coppers.

I shoulda known when the time came Miss Cardiac Arrest would claim I’d gone too far off the deep end to get on the bus with the others. That pain in the keister, straight from nursery school—I mean nursing school—scribbles everything I say in her notebook.

Anyway, I came up with my own plan to pull a “Crater.” As in Judge Crater, “the missingest man in New York City.” Rumor has it Legs dumped him in the Barmann Brewery subbasement after a deal went bad. The truth is, Legs never made a pal he didn’t double-cross.

I slipped outside and snuck behind the bus while they counted heads. It’s funny how you can settle on not going someplace and still feel left outta the action. I shook off the feeling, high-tailed it through the backyard to the Wiltwyck Cemetery, and ducked behind a marble slab.

When the bus pulled away, I beat it through the boneyard, across the tracks, to the corner of Barmann and South Clinton where Peter Barmann had his brewery during Prohibition. The brewery sat on a hill strewn with caves where Peter kept his ice and kegs, and Legs ran his swindles.

Legs ran booze out of Kingston. The way it worked was this: A couple of local plumbers on his payroll ran rubber hosing through the city sewer lines from the brewery to two harmless-looking warehouses on Bruyn Avenue. The boys made the hooch at Barmann and transported it to the warehouses through the sewer. Then, Legs distributed it to his speakeasies in New York City and Albany.

The truth is, everyone knew. But they buttoned their lips for fear of Legs’ revenge.

Too bad the operation came tumbling down when those revenue agents—the Flying Squadron—raided the warehouses and made the Million Dollar Seizure.

The Squadron didn’t get all the cabbage, though, and I know where it is.

Only the brewery’s foundation is left. I climbed down a ladder into the caves and found my way to a slit in the rock. I reached for a button in the crevice that opens a hidden doorway into the subbasement where Legs cheesed his dough. The door creaked.

I was pretty sure Legs was hiding out behind that door. When I got to him, I’d be aces with the boys—if they hadn’t already scrammed without me.           

I had another moment of regret about missing that bus trip. Like I said, it’s funny how you can decide not to go someplace and still feel left out.

Especially when you realize you aren’t alone.

And now you wish you were.

I heard a whoosh. Something soft, like a finger—or Crater’s ghost—brushed up against me. The hair on the back of my neck bristled.

“Get away from me!” I screamed and dropped to the floor, kicking. When I looked up, Miss Code Blue was standing over me.

“Good thing I know where to find you. Never saw this door before, though,” she said coyly.

We tussled.

I won.

I blew “home” before anyone else knew I was gone. But instead of being the cat’s pajamas, the boys called me a weak sister for missing the bus trip.

The truth is, they don’t know about the dough under Barmann, and I’m so sore, they never will. Soon enough, I’ll make a clean sneak from the cave through that doorway, past two stiffs—Crater and “the missingest nurse in Kingston.” Then, it’ll be Legs and Angel on the lam. And the boys will crab they’ve been double-crossed by the best.

Write that down Miss DNR.



JEAN WOLFERSTEIG retired as CEO of a psychiatric hospital in upstate New York and turned to writing fiction and teaching yoga. She is currently looking for a home for her novel, The Room Where the Elephant Goes to Die and is working on a new novel, The Dead Man’s Taxi Service. She was born in Kingston and raised on her grandmother’s stories, including none too few about the local legend, Legs Diamond. Jean lives in the Mid-Hudson Valley with her husband.


Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jul 2, 2018

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder, Original Fiction | Tags: , , , ,