Deadlands Noir Extinct in the Big Easy

Ma Was Right I DID Grow Up to be a Carnie
The Beginning of Something Grandly Strange

So I’m just grabbing a cup a coffee to keep me awake ‘tween tune-ups when a couple of odd things happen. One, I spy Father Ryan clear-eyed and fierce tell someone they’d lied to a man of the faith. Then Happy Henry, who wouldn’t stop smilin’ if sunshine turned to soot, done throws his own mug at a family what’s signing “Happy Birthday” to their boy. Father Ryan sees Henry out, whiles I see a possibly job.

I weren’t alone in my conclusions, either. The guy that lied turned out to be Tony, who helped me lay my folks to rest. I figure everyone’s got their complications, so I don’t bring it up. Antonio and Claude tag along too, Antonio for the sake of change in his pocket, Claude to make sure one of his best customers stays consuming.

Turns out, Harry’s a tinkerer himself – a brother in motor oil! See, he’s got an amusement park out by the dock that’s getting eaten out o’ business by something that comes in da night. If he has ta close it before he can get one of his ideas workin’, he’s gonna be a poor man like da rest of us, but he’d rather pay us to solve his little problem for him. We preferred that, too.

We take a gander at the place, and aside from the predicted cast of shady characters what works at such establishments, we find this, this stuff. Stuff that ain’t decided if it’s a solid, a liquid, or a powder, so it takes turns with each. I stopped by Ol’ Mr. Hill’s place to see if the coot’d seen its like before. The cad had himself a time with a mime while he worked in France painted herself with stuff like this, only it didn’t shift itself.

Thought I’d jot this down and grab a shell out from Ma’s personal stash ’fore we head out – this critter could be nasty business.

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The Trouble with Harry
You can run from trouble, but you can't hide from it.
I was on my way back to the rectory after taking communion to the widow Ledoux when I saw him. Sven. The man who promised me that he would do right by cousin Nicky and take care of him when I had to leave New York. He was sitting at the counter at Claudes, the neighborhood diner. Feeling the need for answers, I go in and ask what he’s doing here in town. He tells me that he is not Sven anymore, he’s Tony now. Tony Bennedetto. Seems he couldn’t keep the promise he made to me and had to leave New York in a hurry, abandoning my cousin Nicky in the rush.About the time I called him on his broken promise, there was an altercation behind me and duty called, but not before extracting a promise from Sven that he would explain himself later at the church.


It seems that Goodtime Harry had run into some trouble at the amusement park he manages for his father and was rather distaught over it. I went over to talk to him and to calm him down. While Claude smoothed things over with the rest of the customers, I invited Harry to come back to the church with me to talk things over. It seems that some one has been stealing food from the concession stands and the restaurant every night after the amusement park closes and no matter what security measures he takes, the thefts continue, leaving little, if any evidence. After telling him that I would help and that I thought I could arrange for some others to help as well, I sent him home.

While I was talking to Harry, Sven came into the church with some others from the diner. I invited Sven into the confessional to hear what happened. It seems that he had run afoul of the same people that had crippled Nicky and would likely not survived as well. With the Scorcese Family after him, Sven had no choice but to leave New York and change his name. So now he is Tony Bennedetto, itinerant investigator. But a broken promise is still a broken promise, so I offered him and his friends a chance to help Harry Batt and to use part of his earnings to help Nicky.
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The power of tattoo

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The bat is the night hunter, the whisper that sees in darkness and spies on us all. I got the tattoo in Brest, France from a gypsy woman. I asked for a connection…a key to other places. I did not ask for a bat but that is where we wound up. The incense was heavy and and the night was a blur but I felt the bat before it was on my arm. This is control….this is power…and it wasn’t the french gypsy; It was the permanence, the sacrifice. It was my first and I had no guide when I made the ‘connection’. I think that first time that I was lucky.

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Joanie B

So there it was—Joanie Shaw, Joanie B., as she liked to be called. Not a big looker, most of the time, though I had seen her gussied up once— she cleaned up okay, when she took the time. It was clear from her daughter’s good looks, she’d been sparkly once; now she was getting a little saggy around the edges. Could have been age, but something told me it was more like, she put her energy into her kids—she had two. Her daughter, that we’d run into at the park, and a boy that was already off married somewhere in Ohio—Joanie had family there, and the boy used his connections to get a good factory job, making cars, I think.


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Now Joanie wasn’t the most talkative customer I had, but she was one of ‘em, and a little bit flirty, too. We had “see-you-in-the-next-life kind of smile we used between us. Not that I was really interested, but it kept her happy and kept her business, and it was fun, too. Older gals like it when you pour on the charm just enough, not too much—and Joanie wasn’t a senior yet, but she was old enough to want some extra male attention. Her husband was kind of a pill, dour, not given to compliments. So me, and the butcher, and the old boy that delivered their milk, we stepped in, and got our share in return. Tips, business, a happy customer. Nothing wrong with that.

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It Dont Rain But
1

I guess this is my week for feeling bad. I mean, here I was feeling pretty good about my setup down here; steady work with people I like, a few friends, a place to stay. Sure, it wasn’t fancy cars, champagne and caviar like I’d been used to, but I ain’t sleeping under a bridge or in a hedgerow, either, and for a while that was as good as it got, so, y’know?

Then I run into a ghost. Sorta. Father Ryan, of all people, walks into the diner where I eat most of my meals and calls me out about something I said in the hospital when my buddy Nick got worked over by the Scorceses. It seems I promised to take care of him, and yeah, I visited when I could, and helped with the doctor’s bills when I had money, but I’ll admit I hadn’t thought of him since I had to run like hell, myself.

So, yeah, bad Sven.

But then this chance to atone comes up; a way to earn some extra money, send some of it to help out Nick. Seems somebody’s been stealing food from the amusement park on the lake, and the manager needs somebody to look into it. So we all…me, the Father, Nickie, Claude from the restaurant, some random sailor, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, we all troop down to the park and start looking around, and I open this door and there’s this shambling thing there that sort of lurched at me, and, well, I swung on it. Just hit it the once. ‘Cept it wasn’t an it, y’know? It was a he, and that one swing broke the poor mook’s neck.

Looks like me and Father Ryan are gonna be having another conversation.

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Session 2

Good-hearted Tony runs out of the gift shop calling for help. Father Ryan sees the body and hears Tony pleading his case. It was dark. The man had a big nose and a beard. Carrying janitorial tools he looked like a monster. Try as he might, Father Ryan failed to bring Ortega back.


Arch Hall Junior andRachel Shaw ride Arch’s motorcycle and tell about their friend’s disappearance. Arch says, “I was just having a ring-a-ding-ding with the gang. Rachel planted a honey cooler on my lips so aces it blew my wig. That’s when Cheryl Turner came by with her folks. Her sister Crystal had been at the beach party last night, but she didn’t come home. We’d all assumed she’d slipped off down the beach to pitch woo with one of her many joes hanging on her, even though she’s kind of a cement mixer. Any way, it’s like she just disappeared. And I got thinking Crystal’s disappearance might be connected with what’s going on here. Again, this might just be a trip for biscuits.”

Arch then asks if this is connected to the Boat Man. “You know, maybe those break-ins are connected with the Boatman. You know the Boatman? I go riding my bike along the beach some nights and see him. Creepy thin guy in a black hooded robe. He paddles a rowboat. When it’s close, and if you’re listening, you hear the sounds of tormented souls. Blood follows behind him! I talked to Casio… he’s one of the Pachuco crumbs Batt hired… about the Boatman. He thinks I saw the Devil himself! Can you believe that? Come to think of it, I haven’t seen ol’ Casio since we had that chat.”

The group discussed Ortega and Casio’s residence. Arch said they were at Warrington House. Claude remembered it as the site where a horrible fire happened, and many tortured slaves perished. The owner vanished into the night. More mutilated bodies were found buried in the basement. The house is widely believed to be haunted. The manager of the shelter, Mr. Warrington, disbelieves these tales.

Arch and Rachel took off on the ghost rock engine-powered bike, down the beach. “Idiot,” Tony thought, seeing the kids ride off into the darkness near where the creatures emerge.

An hour later, the Boat Man appeared, dumping chum from a Hillberg Jumbo Shrimp Company crate into the lake. As the Boatman turned the boat around between the piers, Tony raced across the pier. The Boatman flung off the tarp, revealing a ghost rock boiler and paddle wheel. Tony cleared the boiler and knocked the Boat Man unconscious.

The Boatman proved to be the owner of the Old Spanish Fort Amusement Park, Earl Brewton, also a member of Father Ryan’s congregation. The group tied him to a chair inside the Ship Ahoy!, next to Ortega’s body. When Brewton woke up, he chastised Father Ryan for being part of such violent deeds. Father Ryan said he wished to avoid violent deeds by asking the questions, not letting Tony do things his way. Not willing to come forward with much information, other than confirming he was in league with the Black Hand, Father Ryan let Tony take control of the interrogation, which consisted of repeatedly sticking Earl’s head in a bucket of water, even after he vomited in the bucket. This enraged Earl, who promised violent consequences for these actions. Then, Father Ryan suggested this was tied in with the missing girl and reminding Earl of his own teenage daughters… who Father Ryan had taken extra special notice of. This got through to Earl, who was quick to spill the goods.

That’s when the False Faces arrive.

Content Not Found: null sees a fine mist on the lake, like a fountain is spraying water everywhere. Then he realizes… the spray is rapidly moving toward him! Antonio points this out to Claude, who steps inside and announces, “They’re here.”

The mist and spray races toward the pier near the Ship Ahoy! Everyone hears wood splinter as the creatures slam into the wooden posts at amazing speeds. The gumshoes decide to evacuate the Ship Ahoy! Which is perched on stilts at the center of the pier. Claude rummages through the kitchen, gathering supplies and then barricading the windows.

The barricades fall.

The false faces enter, drawn by the smell of Claude cooking sugar and hooch.

Claude whips the frying pan full of flaming sugar at the False Face, killing it. “Clown brulee,” Claude says.

Antonio unleashes the power of a tattoo, blasting one of the creatures emerging on the pier. It staggered, and the features of its face vanished. Antonio rushes back toward the others, where Father Ryan and Tony (the Father with a gold shimmering baseball bat and Tony with glowing brass knuckles).


During the course of the battle, Tony suffers a busted rib. Antonio sets the Ship Ahoy! On fire. Claude puts the flames out.

As the last False Face falls, the group hears an engine come to life behind the light house, where Baby was left parked… and where Earl Brewton was headed after Father Ryan set him free and told him to get out of here…
Earl trying to steal baby as scene ends and last false face disturbed

“I’ve learned that you punch anything hard enough it breaks.” —Tony

2 pt session

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The Castle

Portsmouth England there is a pub called The Dolphin which caters to us unsavory sailor-folk. Well, needless to say, I fell in with a bit of a rough crowd there one night. The beer is strong there and the company that night was a bunch of English sailors fresh off a run to Santos, Brazil. Being locals they knew the publican and a lot of the local ladies. I vaguely remember breaking into the Portsmouth Angler’s Club and stealing a 7’ long stuffed Bluefin Tuna. This seemed like a good idea at the time. I woke in the morning with a terrible headache and another tattoo.

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Die Sugar Baby Die

This was way outside my normal bounds— I was glad to have the Content Not Found: null voodoo on our side, when I saw those things coming out of the sea. I thought for sure my goose was cooked, as they started tearing at the doors of the burger barn. Normally I’m a lover, not a fighter, ’cept for the scrap or two I had in the past, over gambling debts— but I knew I had to do something to be ready if, no, WHEN those monsters got through my barricade. As I rummaged through the familiar draws of a well equipped kitchen, I got an idea, a crazy one but doable— and I put my plan into action immédiatement!


I mean, outside, those feisty scrappers— even the priest!— were doing an amazing job, but still, they were outnumbered; it wasn’t long before tentacles started creeping through the windowpanes, searching for the sustenance of my own sweet flesh. I did my best with what I had on hand, and as I threw an ersatz weapon of flaming sherry-scented caramel (I think, one thought settled in my mind— that class on sugarcraft I took five years ago had really paid off!

The damn thing died, in pieces, and I got some more damage in on the second, who bizarrely assumed a waitress look before it was torched by the guys.

A tough, but satisfying, recipe test.

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Session 3

Baby’s engines fired up but wouldn’t consistently fire. Nicky explodes from the Ship Ahoy! Restroom, pants around his ankles. He grabs a crow bar and taps on his car’s window. Earl rolls down the window and stammers, “The Father told me to get out of here fast. He meant for me to take this, right?”

The Father did not mean that. Once Earl got out of the car, Nicky was quick to slam the crow bar against Earl’s arm.

“Everybody calm down,” Father Ryan plead.

“Yeah, he’s offered us five hundred bucks each to clear out his park,” Tony reasoned.
“If this psycho swings that crow bar again, I’m cutting the offer down a hundred bucks,” Earl protested.

Nicky scores fifty bucks on a wager that he can get his boat repaired. Fifteen minutes later, Nicky collects the cash. While Nicky works magic with his tools, Father Ryan tries to help Tony with his ribs. A slip of the fingers later, Tony hollers into the night, in even more pain.

Earl takes off down the lake, and the group gathers on the pier to stand watch over the waterfront, making sure more False Faces don’t show up.

Nicky reminisces about his childhood, when his dad snuck him out of the house late at night and drove him to the shore. They’d watch the passing vehicles, and Nicky’s father made up stories about all the important jobs the drivers were performing and all the places the trucks were headed. “You’re in the best place of all,” Nicky’ father said… “Home.”

The next morning, the group gathers at Claude’s restaurant for breakfast. Claude spends time training Sammy, the great-great niece of the restaurant’s original owner. Father Ryan performs mass and hears confessions. He visits with the widow Jenkins, a neighborhood busy body who lives near the French Quarter. She informs the Father that someone saw Earl Brewton in town… without his family, moving about like a man on a mission. Tony, already a night owl, continues his typical routine. Nicky gives baby a tune up.

The gumshoes meet Earl at 6pm outside the Old Spanish Fort. Earl gives them a run down of the place and opens the gates and gives them the key. He informs them he’ll wait in his car. If any creatures look like they’re coming out of the park, he’ll take off.

The gumshoes pass through the rusted, creaking front gates of the Old Spanish Fort Amusement Park onto Main Street, CSA. To their left is the casino. To the right is the restaurant, Over the Rhine. Further back, they see the Scenic Railway tracks, rising like an alien temple from the vines and trees. In their mind, they can hear the screams from the passengers who rode over it last July 4th. Ahead of them is a Civil War submersible, quite possibly the world’s first submarine. A plaque commemorates the brave crew of the submersible “Pioneer.”

Over the Rhine is a classy German restaurant. The dining room is in a recessed floor. On one side of the restaurant, they see an ornate fountain, water still trickling down the stones into the bowl. It looks like the place could be cleaned and open for business tomorrow. Of course, there’s the horrible stench that assaults them when they step inside.

The investigators see an arm sticking out of the fountain. Claude sees a Betty Boop in CSA naval uniform tattoo on his arm. Father Ryan recognizes it as the tattoo found on all members of Mallroy’s Ironclads, a Confederate Navy Flotilla that’s in charge of the CSA Army Supply Depot in the Lower Ninth. They step closer and find the man has several bullet wounds, all professionally and recently patched up.

After some healing and wrapping the unconscious man in a table cloth, they finally get him talking. His name is Elijah Joyce, and the last thing he remembers is leaving the house two days ago to report for training. They walk Elijah out of the park. Elijah and Earl uncomfortably make small talk.

The gumshoes follow tracks into the hotel-casino and find four bikes ditched in the lobby. The prints lead into the casino, which is eerily silent… to everyone but Antonio. A spotlight illuminates a pale spindly demon with black circles around his albino face. He wears a black and white striped suit and calls from an empty dealer’s table. “New table. Fresh cards! Get a fresh start! Everybody wants to be a winner!”

The dealer looks over at Antonio. “Game isn’t rigged. I keep it fair. How about it, bucko? Wanna belly up to the table, get a little more fire flowing through that ink [bottle/cock cannon]? Call on me, your spells will be more powerful. You’ll be able to defeat any foe, win any kitten’s bacon… why’d I have to say bacon? I’m starving, which brings me to the cost… in exchange for an exclusive seat at my table, in exchange for more potent effects, I just want to eat at the tables you’ve eaten at, without having to deal with splitting the bill or doggy bags. I’ll take the food right from there [he points at Antonio’s belly]. Belly up, big boy! You’ll feel a bit peckish after playing with me, but help yourself to a buffet, get yourself some jambalaya and you’ll be right as rain. Do we have a deal? Let’s shake on it!”

The dealer pulls out a shotgun and blows away a ghoul leaving the casino. “No stealing office supplies, Gus!” the dealer shouts. A dozen pens (most are broken) fall out of the sky. A red one lands in the dealer’s hand. With a wave he produces a contract. “Sign on the dotted line, Tex?”

Antonio signs on the line, and Hungry Jim puts a new tattoo on Antonio’s thigh: an apple with a bite missing.

The gumshoes leave the hotel-casino and make their way toward the ferris wheel, where they find a bench broken and blood on the wooden safety bar. False Face footprints lead into the haunted house. Two clown-like monstrosities come out of the haunted house’s shadows and attack. Tony punches one in the face, knocking its head off, into the air, and it lands impaled on a flag pole. Claude finds an iron bar sticking out of the ferris wheel and attacks the other, smashing it. The ferris wheel, missing a lynch pin, breaks loose and chases Antonio toward the fence.

The attraction wasn’t well cared for the seasons before the False Faces arrived, making it look even more genuine as a haunted house. Now, it’s an accident waiting to happen. The floor threatens to break beneath your feet. Cobwebs fill the interior. Besides the rot and mold, there’s even the smell of a gas leak. Wooden coffins mounted to railroad flat cars serve as the transportation through the house of nightmares.
Antonio casts Dark vision on himself and Tony, who leads the way into the Bird’s Eye room. A giant photograph of New Orleans, taken from a Hellestromme zeppelin, fills the entire floor. The walls and ceiling look like the night sky. Luckily, no one has a phobia of heights.
Moving forward…

To the south side of the track, you see a massive guillotine, big enough to chop the head off a giant. A small hill of severed heads lie in front of the guillotine. Then, in front of the tombstones, the graves are open. Skeletons pull themselves out of the ground. Zombies rise from the graves.

Tony nearly falls into an open fake grave. Claude notes the gnawed bones are real… And probably human. As Father Ryan and Antonio reach the far end of the room, two False Faces emerge from a false grave that contains a stairway leading beneath the attraction.
After dispatching the creatures, Father Ryan and Antonio proceed into the next room to secure the upper level, leaving the others to defend the stairs.

The walls, ceiling and floor of the eastern room are painted to resemble hellfire. Fans blow gels in front of lights to create a flickering fire effect. Statues of demons and foul creatures sacrifice innocent victims. As you progress through the chamber you’re haunted by a feeling that some abysmal force is watching you.

Tony realizes the sacrificial victim on the altar seems too life like. He approaches and discovers it’s the corpse of Crystal Turner, eaten alive. Father Ryan backs away and takes off running toward the others. Tony’s heart stutters, his vision blurs, and he drops, coming to thirty seconds later, Father Ryan pouring medicinal brandy down his gullet.

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Setting the scene
13

In the spirit of the self portraits some of us have been using as our posts, and realizing that there was a week of our “fun park” adventure when I did not post, I give you the (now demolished and replaced, of course) ferris wheel:

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