Deadlands Noir Extinct in the Big Easy
Sven Jansen/Tony Benedetto
6'9", pale, white-blonde stick-straight hair...but he dyes and waves it and is getting pretty good with the make-up to darken his skin
1: 10 years ago, Sven was big in boxing; his fights made the papers from coast to coast, and he was on his way to the heavyweight championship, rolling in money, cars and liquor.
2: The Wednesday after Black Tuesday (1929), Sven’s money man took a dive off the 13th floor of his building. It turns out that what he hadn’t already spent of Sven’s winnings had just vanished in the crash. In imminent danger of losing his lifestyle, he did what he never had before…he agreed to take a fall.
3: When Sven was up-and-coming, one of his training buddies took a bad beating and wound up partially paralyzed, utterly dependent on other people, unable to even wipe his own ass. Sven just hopes he himself is never too helpless to put a gun in his mouth and pull the trigger if it comes to that.
4: That beating his buddy took? It wasn’t in the ring. It was at the hands of one of the Scorcese Family’s harrowed enforcers. Nobody’s quite sure how Charlie crossed them; he don’t speak or remember things so well since the beating, and the rumors say six different things. You just don’t cross the Scorceses is all.
5: (Ryan/Nicky Rawlins) – So anyway, the Scorceses came to me with an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I swallowed my pride and took the offer; I would take a fall in the 5th in the ‘29 world heavyweight championship, and I would keep my kneecaps and (they said) would be free to fight fair in ’30. Except, well, the bastard got lippy in the ring, and the next thing I know the referee is holding my hand up and the poor guy is being carried out of the ring on a stretcher. So, yeah, I kind of had to leave New York, and fast. The money I had on me ran out pretty quick. By the time I crossed the Mason-Dixon line I’d sold off the Doozy for a Model-T and the t-bone steaks for hamburger, and by the time I hit Louisiana I’d been walking and riding the rails for about 2 months, and would’ve eaten the sawdust off a slaughterhouse floor if I could’ve gotten it.
I’d traded an afternoon chopping wood for a meal and a night in the barn, about 20 miles north of Baton Rouge, but I didn’t get any sleep that night. The lady who took me in was showing me to the hayloft when something came out of the woods like a streak of lightning, if lightning did the opposite of making things light. I was turned around to listen to her tell me where the privy was, which is the only way I saw it, and I managed to get the door closed right in its face. Fat lot of good it did. I think it took it about 10 seconds to tear the planks right off the wall and come in. It wasn’t interested in me, I figure, because it knocked me into the far wall with one smack and when I picked myself up Mrs. Rawlins was already in about 3 pieces. That’s when the Lincoln came through the wall; it sent that thing flying about the same way it had done me, and by the time it got up the driver of the car had put both barrels of a 12-guage into it. I got my first real look at it after it stopped twitching, and I still see it most nights in my dreams. I didn’t even notice the axe in its back until then. I’m not sure it had, either.
Anyway, I helped the driver of the car, Mrs. Rawlins’ son Nicky, get the car out of the barn and lay out and bury his folks’ bodies, and by the time that was done we were starting to be friends, and I think we’d both seen enough of that farm to last us a lifetime. I slept in the back seat, and in the morning we were in New Orleans.
Behind the thing trying to get through the door, fifty yards from the barn you saw: A tall and obviously dead man, wearing a duster covered in the badges he’s taken from the chests of dead lawmen, with a pair of Colt Walkers in his hands. The guns fired, and the lady dropped the rifle from her hands. No one else saw an undead gunman on the property that night.
6: I fetched up pretty well in New Orleans. I’ve got a steady job, bouncer for one of the brothels in Storyville. They’re mostly independent, kind of a co-op thing among the girls. They pay their protection money, same as everybody, but they made it damned clear from the start that I was working for them and just what happened to the last guy who thought he was going to be their pimp. Hell, I wasn’t even thinking anything like that. It’s steady pay, some of the girls like ‘em tall in their off hours, and I occasionally get to beat the crap out of some asshole who richly deserves it. A couple of the girls have been helping me out with the hair and make-up, too, which makes passing myself off as Italian a hell of a lot more convincing. One thing that doesn’t come with the job is a place to stay, but I’ve got a room with a bathroom down the hall just off the French Quarter, and the diner across the street is pretty damned good and is open when I get home around 4 AM. The owner can sure as hell talk your ear off, though!