Chief Blackbear

From The Prologue

Black Bear, who was a renegade Sioux that struck it rich gold mining in the eighteen hundreds, was Joe's grandfather. He nearly finished raising the boy on his ranch, but was assassinated by the Mafia when Joe was seventeen. Sergeant Duffy could see that Joe's anger was going to be a problem, and didn't think Joe was ready to stand up to the Mafia on his own. The Sergeant was in tight with Eisenhower and had the pull to get Joe into his platoon where they cleaned out caves full of North Koreans in South Korea. He hoped the boy could let off some steam, under his guidance. Even though combat was dangerous, Sergeant Duffy figured Joe would be able to stay alive and out of jail long enough to finish growing up.

After leaving Korea Joe went back to his grandfather's ranch to find out the Mafia had talked his attorney into selling off all the cattle. The attorney had taken the money to Chicago and opened a restaurant where he paid the Mafia ten percent to stay in business.

Joe hit Chicago ready to settle the score with the attorney. He was driving a blue Ford truck from the forties and wearing his father's hat and jewelry. He wore his father's ring on his left ring finger. It was made of gold and shaped of an Indian Chief with a full headdress. The band of the headdress had two quarter-karat diamonds inserted into it. He had put it on the day his father got killed and his finger grew to thick to ever take it off, which suited him fine. He also wore his father's bracelet on his left hand, which was gold and spelled out CHIEF with quarter-karat diamonds in capital letters. His necklace was a thick gold chain with a bear made of gold, hanging from the top of its head. The bear appeared to stand on its hind legs and had diamonds for eyes.

His mother and Uncle Jack were living in a cheap apartment on the south side of town. Jenny opened the door.

"Hey Ma! Surprised to see me?"

"Jesus Christ, son! I was afraid I'd never see you again."

Joe wrapped his arms around her and lifted her off the ground saying, "You know better than that, Ma." He squeezed her tightly and kissed her cheek.

When he put her down she said, "Well, you sure grew into a strong and handsome young man."

Joe reached his hand out to his uncle.

"What? You're too old to give your uncle a hug."

The two men hugged each other, standing in the living room. When they broke apart Joe kneeled down to hug his little brother who was around eight and a half.

Standing up Joe asked his uncle, "So what do you know about John Bradbury?"

"I know he opened a restaurant with money from your grandpa's cattle."

"Ya know where the restaurant is?"

"Oh yeah."

"Whata ya say we ride over there and pay him a visit?"

"He's paying Olivetti and Campenero for protection."


"You ain't gonna get us killed are ya?"

"You scared?"

"No. I just wanna know what you got in mind."

"I'm gonna get my money back."

"How ya gonna do that?"

"I'll figure it out when we get there."

Jack shook his head and sighed. "Just don't get us killed."

They walked outside and Joe grabbed his father's gun belt from underneath the seat of the truck.

Jack was still driving the Chief's Cadillac and they drove it over to Bradbury's Steak House.

They went inside and most everyone remembered Joe. Many of them were the Chief's men and missed his leadership. With the Chief out of the way, the Mafia had uncontested run of the town.

Joe wore a full length, black leather blazer to cover the gun belt. His face was unshaven and there was a look of determination in his deep blue eyes. He was in his early twenties, but his physique and ruggedness commanded the respect of a much older man.

Joe saw Bradbury sitting at a table with Olivetti, Campenero and a bunch of other people.

Campenero's leg started to hurt when he saw Joe approaching the table. "Hey look who's here. It's the little Chief."

Bradbury was the first to rise from his seat. Before he had a chance to say or do anything Joe punched him in the forehead with a left jab. Bradbury staggered backward. Joe punched him with his left again, and then a right hook that spun Bradbury around before he dropped to his knees.

By this time women were screaming and men were preparing to do something. Joe picked Bradbury up by the lapels of his coat and slammed him onto the table in front of Campenero and Olivetti. Dishes and silver wear crashed to the floor.

Olivetti thought about doing something, but knew that Joe had been driven insane and was likely to kill several people before they could stop him. He had known Joe since he was a baby and felt bad about his father and grandfather being murdered.

Campenero wanted to do something and waited for Olivetti to make the call. When Olivetti remained silent he shouted, "Hey Joey, remember what happened to your father?"

Joe had Bradbury laid out on the table. He looked to Campenero and replied, "Remember what happened to your leg?"

Bradbury was scared shitless. He had watched Joe finish growing up on the ranch and remembered Joe and his grandfather playing catch with a tomahawk. He noticed the same tomahawk hanging on the left side of Joe's gun belt. He looked to Olivetti and shouted, "What the hell am I paying you guys for?"

A couple of Olivetti's men started to make a move, but Olivetti motioned them to stop.

Joe pulled the Chief's Colt out of its holster and stuck the barrel in Bradbury's mouth. "I figure you owe me about five hundred grand. Ya got it?"

Bradbury remembered Joe having to drive a nail into a tree from fifty feet away with the same gun before he could have dinner. He was afraid Joe would pull the trigger when he shook his head from side to side.

"Ya got a safe in the office?"

Bradbury slowly nodded.

Joe pulled the gun out of Bradbury's mouth saying, "Let's go take a look at it." He pulled Bradbury off the table and gave him a push.

Olivetti said, "Hey Chief!"

Joe turned and looked him in the eye. He and Campenero were still sitting at the table. Olivetti said, "You'd better watch your ass."

That was the first time anyone had ever called Joe, "Chief." It made him proud, but he knew he had some serious business to take care of before he deserved to be called the Chief.

There was about fifty thousand dollars in the safe. Joe pocketed the money and said, "Here's what we're gonna do. You're gonna sign the restaurant over to me, and I'm not going to kill you. Does that sound like a good deal?"

"Why should I do that? I pay the Outfit a lot of money for protection."

Joe lit a cigar and said, "Yeah, and they're doing a real good job protecting you. Aren't they?"

Jack chuckled.

Bradbury said, "All right. If I sign it over that's going to be it, right?"

"As long as you don't give me any shit. You even think about making trouble for me and I won't think twice about blowing your fuckin' head off."

Bradbury knew Joe was serious and feared for his life. He realized he was lucky to be alive and never should have listened to Campenero in the first place. Campenero had sworn to protect him if he sold the Chief's cattle and moved to Chicago, but he could now see that Campenero was full of shit. He said, "All right, I'll do it."

Joe took a hit off his cigar and said, "See there. It's your lucky day. His eyes shifted to Bradbury's diamond watch. "Just one more thing. I need a watch and yours looks pretty nice."

Bradbury's watch was made of gold. The face was black and the numbers were diamonds. The band had a buckle and holes like a belt. He unfastened it and handed it to the Chief. The Chief put it on his right wrist and said, "It's a little tight, but it don't look too bad. You're giving it to me, right?"

"Yeah, what the hell."

"Good. Now let's get down to business."

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