Our Sparrow & Crowe series contains stories about Dr. Xander Crowe and his faithful assistant Sparrow before, around, and after our main tale. These stories may contain clues as to our central mystery. Or they may not. We’ll never tell.
We hope you enjoy.
From the Journal of Dr. Xander Crowe
by Jeremiah Allan
The Marino Estate is a vast maze of galleried hallways and other assorted, winding passageways, and it was through this muddled stretch of architecture that I was herded by Marino’s men. Tall Sicilians, the lot of them but one, all dark shades and earpieces; suits, too, with matching black ties. It was as if they might have to drop everything at any given moment and attend a funeral, which I doubt is anything but likely given their particular line of work. The odd one out was Armando Aparo, on loan to Marino from the Latin Exchange. They swapped help from time to time as a show of solidarity, the brothers from the North and their drug-smuggling sibling from the South, and neither fought as much as television would lead you to believe. The underworld had changed since the forties, when everybody fought everybody else in a mindless turf war that only depleted the resources of both sides. The mob learned to keep quiet, to work with instead of against each other, and they threw enormous galas where people sipped ten thousand dollar-a-bottle vineyard wine while congratulating each other on their newfound licenses to print money. Aparo wore punk-chains and a wife-beater. He was their leader in the absence of Marino himself, despite being young. What Aparo lacked in age and experience, he more than made up for with his brains and loyalty. Marino knew the value of a star struck mook, even if he was an ambassador and not truly one of Sicily’s finest. Marino knew who to trust, and this guy was squeaky clean—or as squeaky clean as the mob gets. Sparrow couldn’t find a blotch anywhere near Aparo’s record; just like Marino, all covered and safe behind the Almighty dollar, a few of which they had conveniently shoved into my back pocket for traveling expenses.
It was Aparo who first approached me. “Piss off!” I’d told him. I was on a tear from the pub and didn’t need some sodding wanker trying to sell me on trip-hop and acid. I’d already seen The Lord of the Rings.
But “Stop!” he said. “This is important business!”
“The only important business,” I said, “is finding someplace where I can outrun Last Call.”
He knew better than to flash a gun. Marino had done his homework, knew about the Hand. One of the big selling points for my particular services, he’d confided in me later. Didn’t tell anyone else, knew my secret but he said it was safe. Aparo only knew not to draw, and pulled a flask of high end vodka from his holster instead.