“I hope, when my time comes, that I die decently in bed. I don’t want to be murdered beside the garbage cans in some Chicago alley.” (Bugs Moran)
Sprightly swing music spills across the dimly lit club. The grayish curtains of cigarette smoke part every once in a while to reveal a sparkling stage and tables upon tables of patrons, some incurably inebriated and others high on the fast-paced nightlife. Fabulous flappers in shimmery cocktail dresses and stylish feather headbands throw their hands up and stomp their feet to the addictive beat on the dance floor. Smartly dressed men, their hair neatly parted and slicked back, toss fistfuls of dice onto the plush green baize of the craps tables. Some hover over roulette wheels, staring intently at the spinning flashes of silver, while others finger their playing cards as they sip on tumblers of whiskey, eyeing both the river and the tower of tokens next to them.
One of the most infamous of the gangsters during this era was George “Bugs” Moran, who bore all the qualities of a stereotypical 20th-century mobster. They didn’t call him “Bugs” for nothing, as the man was a vindictive ticking time bomb who unleashed hell upon anyone who dared cross him. One of the most prolific career criminals of his time, he was convicted and incarcerated at least three times before his 21st birthday. George was a seasoned gunman (so much so that he was eventually crowned the “father of drive-by shootings”), an expert rum-runner, and the fearsome head of one of the most prominent gangs in all of Chicago.
Nobody was ever convicted for the “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre”, the most infamous gangland hit in American history, but it’s an open secret that it was the work of America’s most famous gangster, Al Capone. Indeed, “Scarface” has captured the nation’s popular imagination since Prohibition, managing to be the most notorious gangster in America while living a very visible and high-profile life in Chicago. Bugs and Scarface had hated each other for more than a decade, and though he narrowly avoided it, Bugs was supposed to be the main target.