|“||Once upon a time, here in America, there was a train called the Flying Pussyfoot that was involved in a certain incident, a singularity that brought together all kinds of lives and their respective fates. . . . That train certainly changed many lives; that's what makes it unique. Of course, the world kept on turning even as the train ran along its tracks.||”|
The Flying Pussyfoot (フライングプッシーフット Furaingu Pusshīfutto) was a luxury transcontinental express. On December 30, 1931 the train was hijacked en route from Chicago to New York City by three parties: the Lemures, demanding their leader Huey Laforet's release from prison in exchange for the passengers' lives; Ladd Russo and his White Suits, intending to kill many of the passengers and crash the train unless paid a ransom; and seven members of Jacuzzi's Gang, aiming to steal the smuggled explosives that Czeslaw Meyer planned to sell to the Runorata Family.
After an overnight power-struggle which saw Jacuzzi's gang relatively victorious and the innocent passengers safe, the Flying Pussyfoot reached Pennsylvania Station two hours late at 2:00 PM on December 31, 1931. Although the incident itself was immediately covered up to the general public, it would later inspire Graham Specter's attempted train hijacking in December 1934 and the Copycat's attempted recreation on board two cruise liners in August 2002.
The Flying Pussyfoot was owned by Nebula, with its greatest distinguishing feature said to be its independence "from the usual railway corporations' operation [...] it was run by borrowing the rails from the railway companies." Among the regulations from which the train was exempt were uniform regulations, and so Flying Pussyfoot conductors wore a custom white uniform in order to flaunt the train's uniqueness.
The train's interior design took inspiration from the British Royal Train; however, unlike its model, the exterior of the Flying Pussyfoot was also extravagantly decorated with ornamental features which resulted in the train's association with the nouveau riche. Ultimately, its design prioritized aesthetics over functionality.
Another key distinguishing features of the Flying Pussyfoot was its system for generating electricity for the train's lights via its wheel axles, with each car outfitted with its own independent electric wiring. This unique system generated more electricity than a typical train's electric system would, with it technically being possible to make the cars' interiors as bright as day. The generators' exchange switches were located under the cars, something that the Young Conductor regarded as a design flaw; the cars' undersides also happened to be a tad more spacious than those of ordinary cars, and each cars' floor was fitted with a trapdoor which could be used for emergency inspections.
The train also had large lamps specially installed under the tail lamps attached to the exterior of its rear car, likely in accordance with the Flying Pussyfoot's operating procedures. These procedures required its conductors to periodically contact the engineers by turning the exterior lamps on and off. The scheduled light signals served as a way to reaffirm the status quo: a missed scheduled signal would theoretically indicate to the engineers that the rear car had been detached or that some other trouble had arisen, leading the engineers to potentially bring the train to a halt.
Unlike many other trains, the Flying Pussyfoot divided its cars into classes according to their distances from the locomotive. The order after the engine was as follows: three first-class carriages; a single dining car; three second-class carriages; one third-class carriage; three cars fitted with freight holds; and a rear car with a spare freight hold and the conductors' compartment. The anime's design, however, only has two 'freight cars' followed by the caboose with the conductors' compartment and spare hold.
All first-class compartment interiors were embellished with marble and similar materials; the second-class compartments were built in a corresponding fashion. Both first-class and second-class compartments came with beds, whereas third class compartments only offered seats. With the exception of the dining car, all cars' corridors fell on the left side according to the direction of travel.
Although the Flying Pussyfoot was utterly 'dry' during the December 1931 hijacking, owing to the Young Conductor's strict adherence to policy, it usually ignored Prohibition by not only serving passengers alcohol but by smuggling liquor on the sly. The dining car's popularity, however, was not owed to alcohol alone: it welcomed passengers regardless of class; and it offered a variety of cuisines including "French dishes[,] Chinese cuisine, [and] the Creole specialty jambalaya" of excellent quality.
During the late afternoon of December 30, 1931, Goose Perkins, Ladd, Jacuzzi, and their respective followers join their fellow passengers in boarding the Flying Pussyfoot—aboard which Czeslaw's explosives have already been smuggled. Goose secures permission for some of his Lemures to guard their 'instruments' (weapons) in a freight hold, while the White Suit Dune murders Tony and steals his special Flying Pussyfoot conductor's uniform—which he will use to impersonate a conductor later that night.
When the two elderly owners of Dolce Restaurant decide last-minute not to board, Elmer C. Albatross buys their tickets and boards the train in their stead. In the meantime, Rachel and Lebreau Fermet Viralesque separately sneak on board without tickets as stowaways; Fermet, overhearing Jacques-Rosé Boronial's decision not to board, stows away in the Second Class department Jacques-Rosé would have used. With the seeds of machinations planted, the Flying Pussyfoot departs from Union Station without delay.
The following incident occurs once Jacques-Rosé and his girlfriend Rosetta leave Chicago's Union Station: the couple sees a vehicle speeding toward the station, containing several Russo Family members hoping to intercept Jacuzzi before he can flee town. When the Russos spot ex-Lemur Nader Schasschule in a police car, however, they attempt to kill Nader on the assumption he is betraying them to law enforcement. Jacques-Rosé comes to Nader's aid; ultimately, the Russos do not arrive at the station, and so the departure is unaffected.
The first few hours of the journey pass without incident; once evening falls and the dining car is full of passengers, the Lemures and the White Suits stir to action—the White Suits at Ladd's order, the Lemures at a signal from their conductor, who thereafter attempts to murder his younger colleague. His colleague—the Young Conductor—murders him instead; when Dune enters the conductors' compartment a minute later wearing the conductor's uniform, he interrogates Dune on Ladd's plans and murders him as well. Though the two murders do not immediately affect the dining car hijacking, their consequences will be felt throughout the night.
Instead, the Lemures' and the White Suits' plans to hijack the dining car go immediately awry on account of happening at the same time: three Lemures; Vicky the White Suit; and Jacuzzi Splot's misguided friend Nick burst into the dining car all at once. Rachel escapes the dining car during the ensuing pandemonium, which sees Vicky and two of the Lemures dead while the third wounded Lemur escapes to First Class. After Ladd leaves the car, and before Goose arrives, Natalie Beriam instructs Czes and her daughter Mary to find a hiding place in or beyond Second Class.
Despite these immediate complications, the Lemures successfully seize control of the dining car and escort Natalie—wife of Senator Manfred Beriam, with whom they plan to negotiate Huey's release—to First Class, where she is kept hostage via personal guard. The Lemures will retain control of the dining car for much of the night by stationing two guards inside it, having gained the initial upper hand due to their high-quality weapons and especially their sheer numbers. Not long after, they enjoy two more early victories in capturing the White Suits Lua Klein and Who and Jacuzzi's friends Nick and Jack.
In response to the Lemures' early lead, Ladd instructs his White Suits to 'go wild' in opposing the Lemures—and subsequent White Suit-Lemur clashes in the night will see deaths on both sides. The Lemur Chané Laforet will discover and kill a White Suit manhandling Mary, after which she reunites Mary with her mother. Ladd later rescues Lua and Who—with Jacuzzi's group afterwards rescuing Nick and Jack—from their bindings.
Throughout the night, the Young Conductor—Claire Stanfield, now the Rail Tracer—actively thins both Suit factions' numbers by killing off most of the Black and White Suits he comes across. Between killings, he regularly returns to the conductors' compartment to make the scheduled light signals necessary for the train to continue at pace. These proceedings proceed smoothly until he overhears Czeslaw request Ladd kill all the dining car passengers—a request Ladd refuses via shooting Czes in the head. When Claire later discovers Czes is an Immortal, he tortures him as punishment for threatening the passengers' lives.
Jacuzzi's gang splits up in a bid to save the passengers in the meantime: Jacuzzi and Donny drop off Jack on their way to the rear cars, while Nick and Nice Holystone head for First Class. The latter pair's route is inadvertently blocked by Ladd and Chané's rooftop duel, resulting in Spike capturing them and escorting them to First Class for interrogation. Goose sends Upham and four other Lemures to the freight holds to investigate Nice and Nick's 'Rail Tracer' stories, where the five then split into groups of two and three.
Upon seeing Rachel for a second time, Claire ties Czes underneath the train and resumes his anti-hijacking priorities. Rachel takes it upon herself to rescue the Beriams; though she succeeds in freeing them from their Sham Lemur captor, she is wounded by Spike in the process and joins Nice and Nick in captivity.
Ladd confronts the Lemur trio in the freight hold and interrogates one on Chané, killing the second and allowing Upham to escape; Upham is soon captured and interrogated by Jacuzzi and Donny on the Lemures' plans. Elmer later chances upon Upham and frees him from his bonds. During this time, Claire kills off the two Lemures guarding the dining car, one of their replacements, and allows the second replacement to return to First Class. Goose leaves to check on the dining car at the replacement's report, giving Rachel the opportunity to free herself, Nice, and Nick from their bonds.
Thus does Jacuzzi's gang become the Lemures' primary opposition for the rest of the night, and so does the tide turn in their favor: Jacuzzi and Donny seize control of the dining car and reconvene with Jon Panel and Fang Lin-Shan, while Nice and Nick prepare for a counterattack. In the meantime, Ladd and Chané have their second rooftop encounter, and Elmer and Upham encounter Fermet in the conductors' apartment. This encounter results in Fermet's expulsion from the train. Claire briefly chastises Elmer and Upham before intervening in the rooftop confrontation, whereupon he proposes to Chané and expels Ladd and Lua from the train; he then saves Chané's life when Spike shoots at her with the intent to kill, and expels Spike from the train in turn.
When Nice answers the Lemures' gunfire with explosives, Jacuzzi orders Donny to unload the smuggled explosives in the second freight car while he hurries to assist Nice, leaving Jon and Fang in charge of the dining car. Claire convinces the elderly, hard-of-hearing engineer brothers that a thief posse chasing the train is responsible for the explosions, and thus convinces them to coax the train to full speed rather than bring it to a halt.
Following Jacuzzi's rescue of Nice and Nick, Goose takes chase along with a few other Lemures; Jon, Fang, and the dining car passengers—having retrieved the Lemures' weapons from the freight hold—force those Lemures to surrender at gunpoint, leaving Goose without backup in his rooftop confrontation with Jacuzzi. In the meantime, Isaac and Miria free Czes and Claire and Rachel have an emotional encounter which ends with Claire giving Rachel a ticket.
The rooftop confrontation results in Goose's expulsion from the train and the Rail Tracer rescuing Jacuzzi, and Jacuzzi's retrieval team successfully fishes all the smuggled cargo—and Chané, who jumped voluntarily at Claire's suggestion—from the river. Shortly prior to this point, the retrieval team helped thwart the Lemures' riverside negotiating team.
The Lemures' negotiating team is led by Serges. While five of their men are in charge of direct negotiations with Senator Manfred Beriam, Serges and his men camp near a certain river over which the Flying Pussyfoot will cross around dawn. While they wait for the train, the five men are scheduled to return one at a time at a fixed schedule with progress updates on negotiations. Should the negotiations prove successful, Serges team is supposed to set off a smoke grenade when the train passes over the bridge, signaling Beriam agreed to their demands.
The presence of Jacuzzi's retrieval team, who are waiting for the train to cross the bridge so they may retrieve its dumped cargo, complicates their mission. Moreover, Vanishing Bunny—an outlaw trio comprised of Pamela, Lana, and Sonja Bake—happen to be conspiring to blow up the train and thereafter rob it; however, their plans change upon discovering Carzelio Runorata in their truck, and they decide to hold him for ransom instead.
Ultimately, the Lemur negotiating team is thwarted by the combined actions of Jacuzzi's retrieval team, Vanishing Bunny, Cazze's bodyguards Gabriel and Juliano, and an escaped grizzly bear that happens to be in the area. Lana sets off the smoke grenade in the process; though this grenade was crucial to the Lemures' plans, it has by this time become moot, since the Lemures' hijacking efforts are already going fatally awry when the train crosses the bridge.
Arrival and Aftermath
Upon the Flying Pussyfoot's arrival at a stop point some miles away from its final destination, all the surviving Black and White Suits with the exception of Chané, Upham, Spike, Lua, Who, and Ladd are taken under arrest. The police conduct a two-hour investigation of the train while its steam engine is switched out for an electric locomotive and its ornate cars—due to the heavy damage they sustained—are switched out for ordinary cars with which to transport the passengers. Thus does the Flying Pussyfoot eventually arrive two hours late to Pennsylvania Station at 2:00 PM, December 31, 1931 despite Claire's efforts to secure a timely arrival.
The police also begin recovering corpses dumped sporadically along the railways for miles between Chicago and New York City. In addition to discovering and arresting Ladd and Lua near the tracks, they bring ex-Lemur Nader Schasschule with them during body recovery; Nader discovers a grievously injured Goose next to the railroad, and Goose hastens his own death by biting through his tongue. Bureau of Investigation [BOI] agents Edward Noah and Bill Sullivan also personally visit one of the in-progress railside investigations after confirming that certain Immortals were registered on Union Station's passenger list for this train's departure; since they belong to a BOI department dedicated to monitoring Immortals, the investigation necessarily is of interest to federal authorities.
Nebula and Senator Beriam nevertheless bribe countless passengers and officials to cover up the incident; they furthermore scrap the Flying Pussyfoot, preserving its locomotive but otherwise leaving its cars to stand idle in a public park on the city outskirts. These abandoned cars are eventually destroyed by civilians celebrating the end of Prohibition on December 5, 1933, and so is the Flying Pussyfoot forever lost to history—save for a portion of the rear car's roof that contains Chané's 'love letter' to Claire, which Claire tears off as a souvenir.
It takes around seventy years for the government to finally declassify the Flying Pussyfoot incident, though the government's published version of events differs from reality. Filmmaker John Drox secures the rights to produce a film based off this edited declassified information in the early 2000s.
People Involved in the Flying Pussyfoot Incident
- Two engineers (a pair of elderly brothers whose hearing loss inures them to the initial hijackings)
- Claire Stanfield (Young Conductor)
- Senior Conductor (Lemur)
- Gregoire (head chef of the dining car's kitchen)
- Fang Lin-Shan (assistant cook; member of Jacuzzi's gang)
- Jon Panel (bartender; member of Jacuzzi's gang)
- Several other assistant cooks
Lemures ("Black Suits")
Goal: To take the passengers hostage, particularly the wife and daughter of Manfred Beriam, and use their lives as leverage against Beriam to negotiate the release of their leader Huey.
- Goose Perkins
- Chané Laforet
- Senior Conductor
- A Sham vessel (Beriams' guard)
- Thirty in total, excluding the conductor
Ladd Russo and His Men ("White Suits")
Goal: To hijack the train, kill half the passengers, and threaten to kill the other half and crash the train "into Manhattan" unless paid a ransom (with Ladd planning to kill the other half anyway).
- Ladd Russo
- Lua Klein
- Dune (impostor conductor)
- "Ten group members" believed left following Vicky's death
Goal: To steal the train's smuggled cargo: explosives that Czes intends to sell to the Runoratas. Post-hijacking, "protecting the passengers" and "defeating the Black Suits, White Suits, and Rail Tracer" become additional goals.
Characters who did not board the train
- Jacques-Rosé Boronial (originally bought a Second Class ticket)
- The owners of Dolce Restaurant (sold their tickets to Elmer at the platform)
- Nader Schasschule and his traitorous executed comrades.
- Lemur negotiation team, led by Serges
- Jacuzzi's retrieval team, including Melody, Chaini, Chaini's follower, and the boy who wants a sister
- Vanishing Bunny members Sonja Bake, Pamela, and Lana (originally conspired to blow up the bridge and rob the train, instead accidentally kidnapped Carzelio Runorata
- Runorata Family bodyguards Gabriel and Juliano, seeking Carzelio's rescue
- Charkie (escaped grizzly bear)
Passengers Arranged by Class (where confirmed)
- Ten Lemures (including: Goose; Spike; Chané; and Sham)
- Natalie Beriam; Mary Beriam; Czeslaw Meyer (sharing same compartment)
- Mr. Turner
- Ten Lemures
- White Suits (including: Ladd; Lua; Who; Dune; Vicky; and others. Based in Room Three)
- Fermet (stowed away in the compartment Jacques-Rosé would have occupied after eavesdropping on his conversation with Rosetta)
- Ten Lemures
- Fred (moves to Ladd's room after given permission; treats patients there)
- Jacuzzi's Gang (Jacuzzi; Nice; Donny; Nick; Jack)
Flying is a slang term that could mean majestic or successful. a fitting term for a luxury transcontinental locomotive. Pussyfoot is another slang term meaning "to walk or go on carefully." Since the train is fairly new, it is also fitting that the name is faring the passengers and crew well and telling them to have a safe trip.
- The main Flying Pussyfoot arc (i.e. the contents of Volumes Two and Three, not Volumes Fourteen or Twenty) has received more adaptations than any other arc in the series. Adaptations include the 2007 Baccano! anime, the first audio drama, the first manga adaptation, and an adventure visual novel for the Nintendo DS.
- The 2007 anime changed the train's final destination from Pennsylvania Station to Grand Central Station, in major part due to the production staff visiting Grand Central Station during their location scouting. In reality, a direct train route from Union Station to Grand Central Station would not have been possible in 1931.
- The clips of the Baccano! 2007 anime adaptation seen in the Durarara!! anime, according to Ryohgo Narita, are clips of John Drox's upcoming film based on the (edited) declassified Flying Pussyfoot incident.
- According to Pamela, the Flying Pussyfoot had been called monikers like 'Mobile Museum' and 'Speeding Ornament' due to the sculpted ornaments festooning both sides of its carriages.