Chapter 3

    My family worked the cons for generations.  My grandfather led the family operation and he was good...he was damned good!  He really knew how to set the marks, draw them in, just when to grab the profits and run.  We worked several scams over the years, but our favorite was the "You've won a prize!" game.  'Send us your $50.00 for processing and we'll send it right out to you.'  Sometimes we'd send out thousands of fliers and actually pay them to get people's confidence in an area, sometimes building it up for three or four weeks before making the big pitches, taking the money and running.
    We were playing the senior citizens in Florida.  We'd made three runs and were starting a fourth when they busted us for the first time.  It was like they knew just when to hit us before we cleaned out and disappeared.  We were held for a couple of weeks then the judge finally agreed on bail, and we all split.
    We set up again in Georgia, were just about ready to leave with the profits when the damned Spir hit us again!  The Georgia authorities were more than glad that we had simply been kept from cleaning their people out, and released us on our own recognizances before The Spir could get warrants to expedite us to Florida.
    Well, by now our resources were really getting low.  We'd barely had enough to set up another con.  This time we went way out west to Washington State.  Again we were just about ready to roll with the profits when I came back to the office one afternoon and found dozens of police cars there.  "What's going on?"  I asked an officer outside.
    "Seventeen people, dead," he answered, "some kind of con artists.  Apparently they cleaned those three old gentlemen out over there.  So they'd walked into their office this afternoon and blew them away!  I knew the law wouldn't do me any good.  The Spir would claim they had nothing to do with the three men.  I managed to retrieve some of the profits from a bank we had hid them away in, and got out of there.  I wasn't any good on the big cons, without my family.  But I could still run the little scams.  It took me two years to raise the money I needed to hire some professional gentlemen from Massachusetts, really skilled in their profession.  I sent them after the leader of The Spir that had first ruined our operation. And would you believe...they failed?  They got caught!  Just about the best you could buy and they completely bungled it.  They told some insane story about a winged being beating the piss out   of them and telling them it was either confess or go to never never land!  And they gave me over.
    Professionals, the best!  And they gave up a customer.  What's the world coming to when you can't trust the people you have any more?"
    Well, the war's come along, and they need people to fight The Spir and I'm more than glad to pitch in.  That's about all I can tell you."
    "When the police sell out," one of the men muttered," the world is certainly falling apart.  Damn!  It's hard to believe."
    "It's even harder to believe," another lieutenant spoke up, "when your friends turn on you."
    "Yeah Jamison," the captain snapped.  "Let's hear yours!"
    The man reached for the brew, poured some in his cup, took a sip then began to speak.  "I belonged to The Brotherhood in Alabama, and it was clearly understood by all  that we would die before betraying a brother.  The Spir came to town.  We didn't like 'em at all.  They flaunted it right in front of us.  Had a beautiful blonde white woman in their group married to a n*****.  Well, we made it clear we didn't appreciate it, and they should take their ideas of racial unity someplace else.
    We decided some of us would pay their colony a visit, teach that white woman that it wasn't right for her to be giving herself to a black.  When we got there they were waiting for us.  It was a set up!  They killed four of us right then and there.  But we managed to kill a couple too.  But it turned out they were federal agents who had come that night to investigate a complaint some of our people had made against The Spir and got caught in our fire.
    Well, if everybody had stayed cool we could've probably gotten out of it.  But one of our members converted, said The Lords had reached him and he knew he had to repent to save his soul.  So he not only told them who had been involved in that incident, but also gave them information on things that had happened several years ago, turned in brothers that weren't even on that raid!
    They put over seventy five per cent of our organization in prison!  I've heard rumors the son of a bitch that sold us out is fighting with The Spir.  I sure as hope he's with them tomorrow, 'cause I want a chance at that traitor!  I lost my brother in prison.  The fags got to him, and he couldn't live with it.  He jumped off a roof!  The Spir owe me big time!  And I intend to collect."
    "You sure as hell will, brother!"  someone cried.
    "Amen!"  somebody else put in, "Amen!"  
    "What about you, Lt. Harrison?" the major asked.  "You got a story to tell?"
    The somber looking man at the edge of the circle looked up.  "Not much to tell," he remarked, "same as everybody else.  Oh, maybe a little different, but my story's practically the same as Capt. West's except with me it was my son.  His wife was always a rebellious type.  He had to slap her around quite a bit to keep her in control.  Then she went Spir, got a judge's order, telling him to stay away, a judge's order telling ah husband he can't see his wife, or, his kids, that because he disciplined them a little bit he was unfit.
    Well, my brother did what any man would do.  He went to the place where his wife was staying and told her to get her ass home.  No

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