“The Swede makes his territory: The fighter’s circle. Daring a cross of it; until finally he puffs his long trunk and the angular slant of his splayed chest and shoulders for a grunt in the air that of a bull ape’s summoning.”
The Swede (b. 1889), is not Swedish at all, but is a gangly 6’5″ Irish-American with blond hair and gigantic fists. Born James Finnigan, The Swede is an enforcer for White Hand gang leader Dinny Meehan. With a permanent “gaunt scowl” and a ferocious temper, he is known in Irishtown for his raging tantrums and is inordinately protective of Meehan. In the early 1900s he lead a group of young thugs in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In 1912, Meehan paid the Italian Black Hand a $500 ransom when The Swede’s sister Helen was kidnapped. Afterward the gang, including The Swede, robbed a Black Hand undertaker of thousands of dollars. He beat Darby Leighton “to death’s door” after the sensational trial for the murder of Christie Maroney. When Charles McGowan was killed by Pickles Leighton in Sing Sing, The Swede became Meehan’s righthand. Rumors of his having a child with his sister Helen have persisted after the ransom for her was paid. In fact The Swede is known to have such a deep and enduring love for his family that it crosses into the taboo.
What you need to know before starting DIVIDE THE DAWN: In 1915 The Swede beat an Italian immigrant to death at the Fulton Ferry Landing. He also led the way during the Donnybrook in Red Hook. In 1917, Wild Bill Lovett secedes from the gang and claims part of the White Hand’s territory. After a swarm of enemies surround the gang, an ominous warning from Detective William Brosnan, and building pressure to provide for his family, The Swede attempts to commit suicide by shooting himself in the heart. Now his left arm is lame, taking away his ability to fistfight while the pressure continues to mount. Later he, along with Meehan, Vincent Maher and Lumpy Gilchrist are arrested for robbing a shoe store when Mickey Kane is murdered.
Eamon Loingsigh is a shortlisted author of historical novels, YA, poetry, speculative fiction and the Science Fiction-Horror podcast DEMOCRACY JONES: 7/13. He earned a degree in Journalism and has written for the Associated Press, The Guardian, Tampa Bay Times and many other publications.
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