Titanic Ed was never the brightest of the crew, but he was nearly seven and a half feet tall and almost as wide. All of it was muscle. Titanic Ed was completely terrifying to average people because in addition to being a giant you could be reasonably sure he wasn’t at all gentle. I’m not sure what gave it away. The gleam in his eye when he regarded something sharp? The constantly updating t-shirt which read “Only ‘X’ days since I last maimed someone!”? Who can say.
Titanic Ed also had ambition, which is a distressing thing in someone who isn’t sure how many feet he’s got. Ed wanted to expand our turf, but that was always a problem for us. We were landlocked, sort of. To the north we had a seriously gentrified area where the cops actually paid attention to crime. To the west, the docks. Mob territory, and they don’t share turf with penny ante operations that they haven’t sanctioned. To the east the Latin Kings. We didn’t have the numbers or the arms to take them on successfully and even Titanic Ed thought twice about suggesting we pay them a call. To the south, though, Ed thought we had an avenue of expansion.
“Don’t even think about it” was Slightly Effeminate Tony’s opinion. Tony had a good eye for strategy and a nice line in frocks, so we listened to him about such matters.
“Why?” Titanic Ed, for all that he could be outwitted by cheese, had a way of cutting to the core of an issue.
“Because,” said Tony “that’s Tunnel Chickens turf, and you don’t want to mess with them.”
Titanic Ed wanted to know why we couldn’t just swagger into Tunnel Chickens territory.
“It’s Boy Named Sue syndrome,” explained Tony as he hemmed something in chiffon “any gang with a name like that is going to be a target for any bunch of idiots looking for an easy win. It more or less guarantees that the gang members are going to be veterans of many, many brawls. If the gang is still going, they’re either recruiting like madmen or they’re all nails. Local legend has it the Chickens are tougher even than that.”
“Bollocks” was Titanic Ed’s considered opinion.
We begged him not to go. We pleaded. I even attached myself to his ankles and was consequently dragged for half a block as he plodded, dogged and determined, to Tunnel Chickens territory. Wizened Pete and I shouted ourselves hoarse begging him to reconsider and we were going to go after him until we heard the distant echoing cluck.
They mailed his colours back to us, accompanied by a single feather.