The title of Chapter 001 is "1927 NY."
New York, 1927.
In a corrupt city where crime rules the streets, Firo Prochainezo is Camorra, an Italian criminal syndicate distinct from the mafia. A member of the relatively small Martillo Family, Firo's nevertheless got big ambitions and is determined to make his mark. But while the Martillos may not be the biggest bad guys on the block, they've got some distinct advantages working in their favor. Does Firo have what it takes to become a made man?
Characters in order of Appearance
- Felix Walken
- Firo Prochainezo
- Luck Gandor
- Keith Gandor
- Berga Gandor
- Kanshichirou Yaguruma
- Ronny Schiatto
- Randy and Pezzo
- Maiza Avaro
- Casino manager
In 1927, Firo Prochainezo has a dream in which he - as a young boy - raises down the stairs to see Claire Stanfield (also as a youth) standing in front of an open doorway. Claire announces he is "going on ahead." Luck Gandor calls out to Firo - he and his brothers (all depicted as young adults) explain that they are leaving as well, to take over for their deceased father. Firo stretches out his hand at his four friends' retreating backs, pleading that "I still...I don't...there's nothing..."
The dream shifts, and suddenly Kanshichirou Yaguruma is flipping him onto his backside after Firo's failed robbery attempt. Just as Firo hits the ground, he wakes up - he has fallen out of bed. Pressing a hand to his head, he asks "what I am I now, exactly?"
He dresses, and leaves his apartment. In the alleyways of New York, he finds a group of men assaulting a child thief who had tried to nick one of their wallets. He says the men look 'dumb', and one of the men retaliates by calling Firo's face 'girlie.' Before he can finish his jibe, Firo punches him in the jaw and swiftly beats the group into submission. The young boy admires Firo and asks if he's in the mafia, Firo corrects him - camorra not mafia - and advises the boy to be more conscious of whose turf he decides to pick pockets on. Walking away, he considers how Keith and the others are like family to him - but they run their own Family now. Compared to them, Firo's...he wipes the blood off his chin and mutters that he wishes the Martillo Family would make him an executive already.
Firo arrives at The Alveare, and is greeted by Seina. Another associate lets him into the speakeasy (after commenting on his beat up face), which is doing a fairly good lunch business. Ronny Schiatto approaches the speakeasy door; at Firo's inquiry, Ronny says he's off to work and that they'll have to have their knife match some other time. Nearby, a group of associates playing poker comment that he's handling negotiations with another Family. Firo clenches his fist as they admire Ronny (a top level executive) for doing it on his own.
Seina delivers the group a new bottle of honey liquor and lectures them to do something 'manly' themselves instead of just admiring Ronny from afar - she accuses them of being content to remain 'two-bit thugs' all their lives. One of the associates snarks at Firo to listen to her and 'cut back on the fighting'. Seina is outraged to hear that Firo's been fighting 'again,' and she leaves to fetch the first aid kit. The same associate crows victory with his straight flush -- only for Firo to point out that he has cards hidden up his sleeve.
Another poker player associate compliments Firo on his "sharp eyes" ("that's a former pickpocket for ya.") Randy and Pezzo butt in and say that pickpockets are nothing compared to them, and they brag about past accomplishments (possibly false).
Maiza Avaro approaches the group and asks Firo for a favor. Someone has been running a casino on Martillo turf without the Family's permission, and he invites Firo to scout the place - the size, the numbers, and the inside. He hands Firo a wad of bills. At Firo's over-eager countenance he reminds Firo that it's 'only scouting' and requests that he do nothing reckless.
At the well-attended casino, Firo joins in on the gambling. His 35-fold payout at roulette catches the attention of the slick manager. He wanders off; a group of poker players catch his attention and invite him to join them for a game. He declines (saying that 'they'll skin [him] alive') and joins five other players preparing to play Texas Hold 'Em. He wins the first round with a full house, and proceeds to lose the next several rounds. Internally, he wonders how many of the players are in cahoots with the dealer - and it hasn't escaped his attention that the house is keeping tabs on him since his big roulette win.
Irritated with his losses, he tosses a few chips into the pool and muses that "this is what separates me from the execs." The other players pick up on his irritation and laugh - one lady condescends that he's "still too young for casinos, kiddo." Firo asks himself if these people even deserve Maiza's money. One particularly raucous man contends that one can never turn the table if one does not 'bet big.'
Firo goes all in. The dealer announces that he will now reveal the river card, but before he can flip the card over Firo slams a knife down between the dealer's fingers, pinning the card to the table. He asks the dealer "how dumb do you think I am?" and reveals that he's been aware of the cheating this whole time. How unusual it had been for the dealer to open a new pack of cards, and how he hadn't actually shuffled them (he just made it seem like he had).
The dealer calmly points out that Firo has no proof, and that he's just acting out as a sore loser. He smiles and threatens to break Firo's fingers then next time he accuses the dealer of cheating, and addresses him as "miss." One player reveals his hand - queens and aces, a full house - and nervously proclaims himself the winner. Firo reveals his own hand: a royal straight flush (ace, king, queen, jack, ten). This is the rarest hand that one can win in poker, with odds of almost 650,000:1 of achieving it. The dealers is shocked, acutely aware that this wasn't how he fixed the deck
When Firo 'apologizes, the dealer jabs his finger at him and accuses him of cheating. Firo snatches the dealer's outstretched hand and bends his index finger backward, breaking it. Recalling the dealer's own words that cheating accusations would result in finger breakage, he smugly advises the dealer to take better care of his hands. Gritting his teeth through the pain, the dealer correctly guesses that Firo switched cards while everyone's attention was on the knife. Firo releases the man's finger and smiles. Not only are his eyes sharp, he says, his fingers are sticky.
The manager (who'd been keeping tabs on Firo) apologizes to the crowd for the commotion. Firo takes the opportunity to complain that the dealer accused him of cheating. He adds that he doesn't want any trouble, and that he guesses that you can't trust a place just because it is new. Several men take threatening steps towards him - and a man behind the manager recognizes Firo as "the Martillo guy from before." It's one of the men that Firo had beaten up yesterday - bad luck. The manager and his cohorts laugh at Firo, highly amused that the Martillos sent just one person to deal with them.
Firo muses out loud that he'd receive a lot of praise if he took at least half of "you turf squatters" out with him. Of course, his boss Molsa Martillo would not be happy. Still - he absolutely refuses to let the men get away with insulting the Martillo Family. He'll never forgive them.
A man opens the door, begging their pardon. It is Maiza, who says that he 'let himself in' and that he would like to speak to the establishment's manager. He looks at Firo and asks him to go wait outside. Firo attempts to protest, but Maiza points out that he hadn't asked Firo to start a fight. Reluctantly, Firo does as he is told. Outside of the building, he worries about Maiza's safety - he's never seen Maiza fight before. After all, he's the Martillo Family's contaiuolo - essentially their accountant. Firo looks down, upset at the thought that if anything happens to Maiza it will be his own fault.
After some time, Maiza emerges from the front door, and thanks Firo for waiting. Firo breathes a sigh of relief that Maiza is unharmed, and apologizes for being out of line. He admits that he doesn't have any "powers or skills," and that he should have kept his nose clean. Maiza replies that "everyone has their own stride," and that if Firo tries to 'run full tilt' to catch up he might have an accident, and lose anything. As he talks, he grabs Firo by the arm and pulls Firo to the side as a car speeds down the street. Releasing Firo, he quotes, "mind your life."
Firo looks down ("yes, sir."). As the two walk down the street, Firo comments that he's surprised Maiza escaped without a scratch. Maiza's explanation is thus: "I showed them civility...and they listened quietly to what I had to say."
Inside the casino, the dazed manager slumps against a square pillar, surveying the chaos in front of him. His men lay either unconscious or dead on the floor, amongst scattered chips and cards. Gritting his teeth, he asks himself "what the hell was that...?"
The manga flashes back to Maiza confronting the men just a little while before. The manager sneers at Maiza's introduction of himself as the Martillo contaiuolo, and asks derisively if he really came all this way just to take care of his associate's mess. Maiza denies this, and explains that the Family had been planning to have someone chat with the casino people - this was just a coincidence. The manager snorts ('chat, huh?') and one of his men charges at Maiza and plunges a knife into the left side of his abdomen.
Maiza falls to his knees, pressing his right hand against the wound even as blood spills down his thigh. The manager jeers that they don't plan to discuss anything, and asks if Maiza really is a 'mobster' if he was so nuts as to confront them by himself. Maiza replies that he doesn't have any intention of 'discussing' things either. To the astonishment of the casino men, Maiza's blood begins moving on its own accord - off the stabber's knife and fingers, flowing across the floor and back up into Maiza's wound. As his wound visibly reseals, Maiza continues: he didn't come for a discussion. Just to talk.
Aghast, the manager accuses Maiza of being a monster. Maiza hoists the man into the air by his lapel, and corrects him: if he were a monster, the man could save himself by running to the nearest church. However...exorcisms won't work on the Martillo Family. "Mind your lives," he says. "When people die, they don't come back."
The flashback ends. Back on the streets, FIro notices that Maiza's coat sleeve is torn. Maiza's excuse is that he has worn his suit for a long time now. In between the panels are the lines: "It's a world where the spiral of destiny...brings people who are still strangers together. Quietly, the wheel begins to turn--now let the crazy ruckus begin."
The manga ends with a series of panels depicting events that will occur three years later, in November 1930. In order: Dallas Genoard and James robbing a fallen man (possibly Barnes) of the money in his wallet; Ennis following Szilard Quates; Firo and Maiza walking down the street; the Gandor brothers sitting and drinking; and finally, Isaac & Miria both dressed as Santa Claus, with bulging sacks draped over their shoulders.
- The casino manager.