Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Shadow and the Show

Jimmy Croydon was a man no one forgot. He was all teeth and sparkling eyes. His red hair was a tussle so perfectly balanced between dishevelled and distinguishing that you didn’t know if Jimmy woke up looking that good or had to put in a hard day’s work getting it just right. His smile came as easy as sleep at noon, so easily that the first time you met him you were sure you two was best friends.

If you knew Jimmy and Billy Croydon you wouldln’t guess they were brothers, if you did know ‘em, chances are you still didn’t know. Billy was the older one, but coming first didn’t get him any prizes, as soon as Jimmy was escaping his crib he eclipsed big brother with his precocious personality. Billy could’ve grown to resent his little brother, instead he used him. They were two sides of the same coin, the one loved the limelight, the other loved the shadows.

Billy Croydon looked a little older than his 42 cycles because of his balding head. His lined face was not expressive or remarkable. He was of average height, slight-to-average build and dressed simply. His only distinguishing characteristic was his newsboy eight-panel cap he wore to cover his bare head.

Most of the time, people didn’t even notice he was around, which had been a hindrance to Billy until his little brother showed his talents. They were hustlers, some would say con men, but they dind’t care for the intricate plans of real confidence men. They preferred simple misdirection. Jimmy “The Show” fronted and Billy “The Shadow” worked behind stage.

Their first hustle was pawning sugar taffy in Jimmy’s school yard. Jimmy was the consumate salesman, he could sell desert dust to a Sand Rider, Billy would later rat on the younger kids his brother had sold candy to and see to it the candy was confiscated. Then, when no one was looking, he would sneak into the Principal's stash and collect the contraband – something his nondescript air had always lent itself very well to. With just 2 dinars worth of taffy, the Croydon Brother’s bought themselves two bicycles within a season.

Their last hustle was a career changer. As their scams went south, so did they; finally ending up in the “Trash City” Khayr-ad Din. They tried to shake down a businessman who looked too sure of himself, unfortunately for the Croydons, Dr Tom Chambers was no easy mark. What went down between them is still told in dens of disrepute and changes with the telling, but it holds at least one grain of truth: In the end, the Croydons chose to work for Chambers and his Guild.

The Croydon brothers did it all. “The show” greased all the right palms to make the machine work and “The Shadow” hid all the skeletons. This duo held no specific position within the Guild and dealt with every aspect of it.

Doc Chamber’s disappeared into the ESE in 1933, the Croydon’s kept the business of doing business. Like two lonely sentries, holding the fort, waiting for the next hustle, waiting for the next big scam. In the hot summer of 1935, their wait was finally over. Chambers, along with such familiar faces as Tarmalin and Delacroix and new ones as well, was coming back to Khayr-ad Din.


Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.