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Legs

William Kennedy

Chapter 8: Jack-in-the-Box

Chapter 7: Jack Among the Maids

Chapters 9 & 10

Summary

For the Troy trial, Marcus has assembled fifteen witnesses to testify that Jack was in Albany on the night of the Streeter incident. One of these witnesses is convicted of perjury. Nevertheless, Jack is acquitted and the courtroom erupts in cheers. Once Marcus identified Streeter as a bootlegger, the trial seemed like a gangster quarrel rather than an occurrence of torture. At the federal trial, however, Marcus cannot confuse the issue in this manner. Several notable Catskill residents, including Van Deusen, testify against Jack. Among the prosecution witnesses is Fogerty, who had been hung out to dry by Jack and convicted of the same Streeter charge of which Jack had just been acquitted. With Alice in the audience with Jack's nephew on her knee, Jack tries to appear the family man. But he is convicted and sentenced to four years. Around this same time, an attempt to revive Jack's organization through a collaboration with Vincent Coll and Fats McCarthy is broken up by the police.

After he gets out of jail on bail, Jack is low on funds and asks for the Biondo money he gave Marcus. Jack and his new driver, Hubert, take Marcus up to Troy on a beer run. They return to the Parody club. A man named Milligan introduces himself to Jack, who he once arrested in New Jersey in 1924. Jack remembers him. Milligan recalls that Jack was singing a song when he busted him. They all begin to sing the song, which is about "my mother's rosary."

Hubert informs them that the Goose and another guy are in a car parked across the street. Packy calls the cops and hands out a few handguns. Flossie suggests they hide out in her emergency room upstairs. The room is empty except for an old army cot and a huge rat with red eyes. Flossie leaves to check on the Goose situation and Hubert stands guard outside the room. Flossie soon returns and informs them that the cops came and took Goose away. Jack leaves quickly, and Marcus, impassioned by the drama, pulls Flossie to the floor. He shoots at the rat with the pistol Packy gave him, and misses. They have sex on the floor while the rat watches.

Analysis

Marcus experiences another vicarious thrill when The Goose waits outside the Parody Club. As when Marcus accompanied Jack on his trip to Europe, as soon as he starts collaborating with Jack, Marcus is overcome with a passion that he ends up satisfying through a sudden, random, and one-time sexual encounter. This time, the encounter is with Flossie. The sexual nature of the exhilaration Marcus experiences as a result of his association with Jack, and the fact that Marcus admires both Alice and Kiki, suggests that in an indirect way, Marcus is turned on by Jack.

Jack's conflicted sense of loyalty is important in this chapter. In the courtroom, Jack is virtually convicted by Fogarty, his old friend and right-hand man. Fogarty is a replacement for Eddie, so when he turns against Jack, it is as if Jack's brother is turning against him because Jack has betrayed the family. Jack remains loyal to his Irish heritage, however. A shared heritage seems to come before normal social conventions. Milligan is a cop, so by definition he is an enemy of Jack and everything Jack stands for. Still, the two men drink and sing together without enmity. Milligan has nothing against Jack as a person, and he even helps Jack escape. This scene contrasts with the scene in the beginning of the novel in which Jack ignored his Irish affiliation with the Reagan brothers and roughed them up.

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