Wellstone City Wednesday

“Daddy, what happened to the Black Dragon sin…cindy…sunday…”

“Syndicate, sweetie?”

” Yeah! Sindecat!”

I couldn’t help but chuckle. “Well, sweet heart, the Black Dragons were just a temporary alliance between a bunch of Chinese gangs…”

“The Try-hats!” my daughter interrupted.

“Tri-ads,” I said with some emphasis. “It was between the Triads and the Yakuza, the Japanese organized crime syndicates. They joined up to fight off the Falcassi’s and the smaller gangs.” I watched as she put the recoil spring into her great-great grandfather’s Colt. She did it perfectly and moved forward, grabbing the spring plug. “The Crosses put a lot of heat on the Black Dragon Syndicate, and they had a lot of internal pressure too, kind of like that spring.

“What do you mean, Dad?”

“Well, take your finger off that recoil spring.” She looked at me skeptically and then let it go. The spring rebounded slightly with the absence of the plug. “See, internal pressure. The Triads and the Yakuza don’t like each other, so they were constantly under pressure.”

” Didn’t they have a plug, Daddy?”

” Well, they did, so to speak. A man they called Chen. But Chen was a bad guy, and another bad guy took him down. And then there was no plug. What happens if we don’t put the plug in great-great-Grandpa’s gun?”

“It doesn’t work anymore.”

” That’s right. And that’s what happened. Without Chen keeping everything together, the Black Dragon Syndicate didn’t work anymore.” I watched as she put the plug in, grunting a little to make sure it stayed together. She grabbed the barrel and looked at me.

“So then what?” I nodded at the gun and she immediately went back to work.

“And then there was chaos. The Syndicate collapsed, there was a power vacuum. Know what I mean by that?” My adorable ten-year-old shook her head and grunted again as the barrel was put into place. “What happens when we use the vacuum?”

” Mittens runs and hides,” she said, giggling. She picked the slide up.

“Well yes. But it pulls things in from around, like dirt out of the floor, or those Oat-e-oh’s you pushed under the couch,” I said looking at her over the top of my glasses at her. She blushed a little and struggled with the slide to get it into the proper position. “So with the Syndicate down, the Falcassis took over, the Crosses tried to get as many resources and turf as they could, and the smaller organized gangs like the Espinozas, the Russians, and the Irish got bigger.

I could see she was struggling with the slide.

“Sweetie, you have to…” I said, watching her manipulate it. She scrunched her face up in concentration and then she got it. “So everything fell apart because of one piece,” I continued, tapping the spring plug. “Now everything is broken. All of it. Not just the Black Dragons, but everything.” I anticipated her next question and grabbed the magazine of hollow points that was sitting on top of her art homework. It was a picture of the three of us with her and me holding hands and her mom, flying in the clouds with a huge smile on her face. I felt my eyes water for a second and then regained my composure.

“So what happened after that?”

I balanced the magazine on my finger. “Before everything was balanced. Very dangerous, but balanced. Now,” I said and flipped the magazine around and pushed a round out. It clattered to the table and I put the magazine back in the same place. The balance had shifted with the missing round and it slid to the table. I kept my finger pointing at her.

“Now the balance is screwed up.”

” Exactly. How do we fix that?”

Her face scrunched up again as she thought and then she re-balanced the magazine on my finger, just shifted a little to the side.

“We rebalance it?”

” Or?”

Her face twisted in thought again and then it cleared up and changed into that smile that had been missing so much in the last few months. She took the mag gently and then ejected the rest of the bullets, stacking them neatly in a line. She re-balanced the empty clip back on my finger, almost exactly back in the original position it was in.

” Or we take all of them out,” she said, pointing out the bullets.

“That’s my thought exactly,” I said and started loading the magazine. It took only a few seconds and then I slapped it into my great-grandfather’s WWII service pistol.