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As if a gun had gone off at a horse race

The first brick flew by him so fast it felt as if a sudden gust of wind had spun by. Stunned, he looked around. Coming toward him was a row of men armed with sticks and clubs. Probably the Dead Rabbits, a local gang. Wonder what they are up to?
“You’ll not be coming into the Bowery Boys’ territory,” a man behind him called out.
Sean whipped around. A different group of men were quickly approaching, bearing clubs, rifles, and what appeared to be hatchets.
“Sean, get out of the way!” Brigit screamed from a nearby storefront.
Frozen, he stared at her for a second. Then, as if a gun had gone off at a horse race, he sprinted over to her, making good time––until his right boot snagged on a cobblestone sticking up on the street and sent him flying.
Dazed, on his stomach, he thought he heard Brigit’s voice, but with the overwhelming cotton sensation in his ears and both gangs beginning to clash all around him, he couldn’t be certain.
Hatchets hurled, clubs battered, and men groaned as knives were plunged into their chests. No longer could he hear Brigit’s voice. The din and smell of battle had overtaken everything.
When he finally managed to sit up, he imagined he saw Brigit, so far away, waving her arms, and he waited to feel his usual love. But all he felt was the stab of a knife entering his chest, his neck, and his stomach. And then he felt nothing.
Given no time for grieving, Brigit was paid a visit by Garrity the very next day.
“Girlie, if you wanna stay here, you gotta pay.” On his way out, he made sure to tap his cigar ash down on the floor next to James who hovered in the corner.
Brigit folded her arms over her bodice and chemise protectively.
“I guess you’ll have to do what I do,” the young widow-turned-prostitute said, a glint of satisfaction in her eyes as she coughed deeply.
Brigit turned to James. “We’re getting out of here, no matter what.”

Excerpt from Genteel Secrets by S.R. Mallery


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