Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
“I can’t believe I work this hard to be this poor.”
“You know what the trouble is, Brucey? We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy’s pocket.”
Frank Sobotka, The Wire
“Rich people work hard and believe it’s perfectly appropriate to be well rewarded for their efforts and the value they provide for others. Poor people work hard, but due to their feelings of unworthiness, they believe that it is inappropriate for them to be well rewarded for their efforts and the value they provide.”
T. Harv Eker
The World of Darkness is rife with the grinding of machinery, the thuds and clangs of smoke-billowing engines, and the ceaseless and thankless toil of its pastry-faced workers whose lives are ended far too early due to the constant exposure to toxins, long hours and stress. Those with this influence are able to control and direct the energy and actions of mortals who move in the industrial complex, blue collar, and service industry sector, including engineers, contractors, construction workers, and the poor souls who labor in factories and dead-end, minimum wage jobs.
|Background Dots||Level of Influence|
|•||Entry level employee|
|••||Senior employee, low-level management, microbusiness owner|
|•••||Small business owner, middle management|
|••••||Larger business owner, upper management|
|•••••||Massive business owner|
Industry Influence ••••
Up and coming young entrepreneur trying to break into a number of established industries in atypical ways, including commerce with both the upper crust and lower crust of society. For the upper class, these include delivery services, shopping services, reservation holding at various establishments, ticket ‘sales’ for sold-out shows, and providing experienced professionals to troubleshoot an array of problems from the mundane (such as power outages or internet issues) to the more complicated and specialized. For those on the other side, he runs several food trucks, provides micro loans, and is pioneering “microemployment” in which he essentially has occasional on-demand employees across the city, many of them providing a very specific service, often off the books. Charismatic and good at convincing people to go along with or buy into his ideas, Mark is incredibly hard-working, putting in long hours, working weekends, and taking a great deal of personal pride in each of his enterprises.
Status: Aura Environmental Systems ••••
Owner of Aura Environmental Systems Inc., the waste company that collects much of New Orleans’ garbage, and founder of the controversial French Quarter Response Force quasi-police private security firm.
Industry Influence •••
Atticus “Tuck” Thompson
Tuck had the potential to be a good looking man. Dark skin, good hairline, solid bone structure. He might have even once been a good looking man, maybe even handsome. But the years haven’t been kind to Tuck. He’s got a bent spine from years of working under the hood, fingers with knuckles as large as his nose, and hair that’s more pepper than salt. His daddy stuck around long enough to put a few kids in his mom before he skipped town, and by the time Tuck was in high school he had the rude awakening that his momma’s two jobs weren’t enough to pay the bills. So he dropped out, took up the first work he could find, and made sure his younger siblings all got through school. He found he was good at what he did and didn’t mind being covered in grease and oil all the time, so he stuck it out as a mechanic and became a well-known name in the city. He’s got an affordable “pay as you can” plan for his lower income clients that he offsets with the custom engines he builds for the people with money, and his proximity to the streets means he’s often in the know. Set of wheels goes missing? Crash your daddy’s Porsche at 3 AM? Need to strip something hot? Tuck can take care of it all.
Status: Bloom Couture •••
Dahlia Rose Flores (no relation to Senator Maxen Flores or Celia Flores, though she considers both good clients) is a Honduran-born immigrant who came to the United States following the destruction to the country by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. She and her parents settled into New Orleans in early 2000 and had five good years before their lives were interrupted by another, more devastating storm: Katrina. Dahlia Rose was the sole survivor of the Flores family. She bounced around in foster care until she turned 18 and promptly set off on her own to see the world, pursuing a fashion design degree from Woodbury University in LA. By 2014 she was back to open Bloom Couture in the French Quarter, a combination conservatory and studio that marries florals and fashion. Her work has received great reception in many circles and is known all across the East Coast. Dahlia Rose herself is currently mid-twenties and usually busy working on various new lines and collaborations with a handful of local and national brands. She says she’ll slow down some day, just not today.
Dominic got his first dog when he was five months old, and by the time he was walking and talking he had that dog (a pit mix) trained to respond to the almost-snap of his infantile fingers. Ever since then he’s had a way with animals—dogs, mostly—that borders on a sixth sense and would put that ”Hollywood piece of shit trainer” to shame. Though his name isn’t as nationally well-known as the guy with the reality TV show, Dominic has enjoyed a lucrative career training dogs and other animals for all sorts of purposes: guard dogs, police dogs, bomb-sniffing dogs, even circus animals. He has a contract with Blackwatch and the NOPD that sees he receives all of their would-be guard and police dogs and takes a handful of private clients on the side, all of whom he charges out the nose for. Doesn’t like dog shows, but he does occasionally breed for them and fetches a hefty stud fee from his pedigreed lines. Claims prior security consulting work, military experience, and police training, none of which show up in a background check. Has a handful of his own dogs, the current favorite of which is a corso/pitt named Bruce.
General contractor who picked up and moved from Boston to New Orleans after Katrina, and subsequently made a killing. Avowed racist who hates African-Americans but not Latinos, whom he employs in mass. Claims his racism is based on experience rather than bigotry. Most of his work is residential, but he’s trying to get an in with local government for bigger contracts. Owns a fair bit of property throughout the city. Has six Irish Catholic brothers he brought with him working under him as job site supervisors. Indicted for assault with a deadly weapon after beating a man nearly to death with a pair of brass knuckles, but got off when the witness skipped town.
Raquel was a stay-at-home mom until her daughter turned four. When her husband didn’t show up for the child’s birthday party Raquel assumed something terrible had happened, and she spent the night making calls and trying to track him down. He wandered in at midnight with red lipstick smeared across his collar, smelling of booze and sex, and Raquel kicked him to the curb. She’d watched her mother go through the same struggle with her father and didn’t want to set that sort of example for her child. Unfortunately Raquel hadn’t worked in five years and quickly realized that re-entering the job market with no degree, limited hours, and a huge gap in her resume wouldn’t net her the sort of income she needed to raise a child on her own. Rather than throw in the towel, Raquel took it with her. The towel, that is. She started cleaning homes for her neighbors and quickly realized that an hour’s worth of work and a few dollars in cleaning products had the potential to grow into its own sort of business.
Partners in Grime began in early 2013 with a mop and a dream, or at least that’s how Raquel tells the story. She often says that maid services are a dime a dozen and as easy to start as any other entrepreneurial venture, and that she was drawn to the idea of starting a cleaning company because of the low overhead and start-up costs. Or maybe because she watched a little too much Sunshine Cleaning. Regardless, Partners in Grime began with just one maid and soon blossomed into the company that it is today. It’s still a relatively small company with only two dozen employees, but their flexible hours, friendly faces, and quick service means that they’re constantly busy. They specialize in residential cleaning but have recently begun to take on corporate gigs as well, and are known to be one of the companies to call for crime scene cleanup. Their motto is, “You do the crime, we’ll clean the grime.” Raquel herself is no longer one of the maids that visits houses (she started making enough to quit scrubbing floors shortly after her first few months in business), and now oversees operations while she pursues a marketing degree at Delgado Community College. Her ex showed up for the last time in 2015 and tried to sue her for half her company, then came after her for custody, but Raquel deftly handled both legal battles and he hasn’t been seen since. Her daughter, Olivia, is now a first grader at McGehee.
Industry Influence ••
Elizabeth “Liz” Williams
Blond and perky, most people are surprised and unnerved when they learn that Liz spends most of her days working with high explosives. A demolitions expert that contracts out to an array of construction companies, she got her start working with the Army Corp of Engineers and first visited New Orleans back in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina with them as a young enlisted engineer only a few months out of training. Upbeat, constantly positive, and genuinely loves her job, though in the days leading up to actual demolitions she tends to work long hours. Fierce social liberal, but hard-charging fiscal conservative who cleverly manages her money to avoid the feast and famine construction boom. Originally from the Midwest, she loves the diversity of New Orleans cuisine and music, having been fed on corn and country music as a child.
Family: The Broussards
Towering, thick-bodied ex-cop who somewhat famously works as a shoe shiner outside the unequivocally famous Hotel Monteleone and Carousel Bar. Less remembered for serving almost a decade at the Farm after being first convicted of brutally assaulting Vera Malveaux and later exonerated when the true perpetrator was discovered.
Former detective turned private investigator, Jack’s frequent employer Caroline Malveaux-Devillers considers him a poor substitute for Louis Fontaine. He left the force to save his second marriage in search of a job that let him work more reasonable and consistent hours. Jack lacks Lou’s connections and instincts, and is just a bit too abrasive with some people. What he does have is a solid knowledge of the city and who can do what, and of the city’s police force, which was Caroline’s primary interest in him. Good at following up on leads on his own time, and largely refuses to work nights. As a result, Caroline uses him mostly to follow up on bureaucratic leads. Coordinates relatively effectively, if not well, with others brought in due to his knowledge of the city. Caroline hired him based on recommendation of hired (out of town) investigators (and based on CBD convenience).
Despite the thick accent, Manuel was born in the States to Esteban and Carlita Lopez in southern California. Esteban worked in the strawberry fields, and whenever childcare fell through he would take Manuel and his siblings to the fields with him to keep an eye on them. Manuel grew up around plants. He learned from a young age how to care for and cultivate a variety of bushes, shrubs, and flowers, and when he was ten he began his first garden in his parent’s backyard. He took a landscaping job as soon as he was old enough to work to stay close to the plants that he loved so much, serving first as general labor and then as a consultant to clients who wanted to do something special with their rolling lawns. His name became known all across Southern California and, supposedly, he’s done work for plenty of A-list movie stars. He took a job at Woodbury University to care for their conservatory, which is where he met Dahlia Rose Flores. They bonded over their shared love of plants and became fast friends despite his non-student role on campus. When she moved back to New Orleans to open her business he came with her and has worked for her since. She laughingly calls him her “plant whisperer” because of his skill with the plants. Manuel works odd hours to keep up with his plants (he says some of them require care at night and others at high noon), but serves as the unofficial manager when Dahlia Rose isn’t around.
Unlike most of the security contractors at Harrah’s, Patrick didn’t take the rent-a-cop approach. He’s not former military, didn’t fail a detective test, isn’t a retired mall cop looking for a part time gig. He’s just a guy who gets paid to look at TV monitors. He’s what they call the Eye in the Sky. He spends a lot of time looking at tits and ass rather than searching for cheaters. Certifiable genius, though, so if something goes wrong with any of the systems he’s the guy to ask. Unfortunately his penchant for computers has left him a little lackluster with the ladies. Not because they don’t like him, but because he doesn’t like them. He’d rather hire escorts when he needs to get his rocks off or visits the Champagne Room on Bourbon Street if he’s looking for something quick and easy. He prefers his women to be seen and not heard, which is why he’s well-suited to watching multiple banks of monitors in the security room. Two years ago he caught someone cheating on a Bad Beat hand at the poker table that prevented a several million dollar payout and hasn’t had to worry about his job security since.
Family: The Pavaghis
Slovenly gaming recluse, lackadaisical IT manager for his father’s online businesses, and owner of the exploitive if financially fecund Dr. Sheen Sanitation Services, LLC.
A former door-to-door saleswoman turned community outreach manager, Shelby’s life was derailed by Hurricane Katrina. Losing first her job and her home, she faced homelessness and worse as she was forced to work varied menial jobs to make ends meet in a city that largely ignored the poorer (and blacker) communities during rebuilding efforts. Eventually hired on by Caroline Malveaux-Devillers at the suggestion of Jack Kinney, who had worked with her in in his past life as a cop in poorer districts, to assist with canvasing for Caroline both directly and working with other investigators. Has a good way with most people, and is often able to encourage others to offer information they might not of a uniformed (white male) investigator in the city.
Industry Influence •
Family: The Riveras
Bartender, maid, nanny, community college student, and single mother, Carla tries to do it all. Born in Mexico, she came over the border with her mother when she was only five years old. The family moved from Houston to New Orleans as part of the mass exodus in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to get away from the abusive influence of the coyote who got them across the border. Carla barely remembers Texas, let alone Mexico, but her illegal status makes it difficult to obtain legitimate employment. A devout Catholic, she has a large tattoo of Jesus Christ on her right shoulder, and another of the Virgin of Guadalupe on her left. Uncertain what her future holds, she prays frequently for her three-year-daughter: as an American citizen, she’ll have opportunities her mother never will. Carla remains willing to do almost anything to ensure that the little girl grows up to be successful, but it’s only a matter of time until her own past catches up with her. Though she makes a respectable living working as a bartender, and makes more on the side with her own small business with a maid service during the day, the trail of off-the-books money she depends on is eventually going to land on someone’s desk, and when it does INS is soon to follow.
Dao Le Phuong
Dao Le Phuong was born at the beginning of World War II in Saigon, Vietnam. Her father was active in the Viet Minh and lead waves of men against first the French and then the British soldiers stationed in the area in a bid for Vietnam’s freedom. She grew up learning from her mother how to care for the wounded, and though she was not allowed a combat role she still played an active and integral role in The French War and then The American War. Following the fall of Saigon in ‘75, Phuong moved to the United States and settled in New Orleans. Like most of the Vietnamese immigrants she moved into Versailles to live a quiet life. Only after Katrina in 2005 did Phuong decide to move herself closer to the city proper, and in 2014 she found the atmosphere of Bloom Couture to her liking. She set up an apothecary within the shop. Phuong doesn’t speak much English despite her four decades within the city, but she’s very good at understanding what people tell her and using gestures to effectively communicate. She seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what people need before they even speak to her about it.
Dao Van Quyen
Phuong’s grandchild and assistant at Eden Source Herbals. Recent graduate from Frederick A. Douglass high school but taking a “gap year” to decide which direction he wants to take with his life. He’s not really sure that he believes in all the “traditional medicine” that his grandmother peddles, but he plays it up for the tourists and suburban housewives that come into the store to try something new. When he’s not at the shop he’s usually running around Algiers or New Orleans East with his friends.
Darcy “Kelly Quirk” Quillen
Bass player, accordionist, and backup singer for the celtic-punk band, St. John’s Banshees. Ex-crack addict who attends “Father” O’Keele’s NA meetings. Gained local notoriety for her underage sexual involvement with a teacher at St. Augustine High School, prompting her to go by her current pseudonym. Presently works the shoe counter at Mid-City Lanes.
Estrellado “Star” Ortzi
Estrellado Ortzi is a forty-something maid that works for Partners in Grime, one of New Orlean’s cleaning companies. She’s been with the company since its inception in the early 2010s and is one of the most senior maids in the service. As a result, she’s often found polishing the floors of NOLA’s more wealthy residents. She has a knack for getting any stain out of any surface and even dabbles in crime scene cleanup. She might have been a looker in her youth, but Estrellado (she lets non-Hispanic people call her “Star” if they can’t roll their R’s properly) got pregnant right out of high school and has spent the past 20-odd years raising her babies. She married her high school sweetheart and was heartbroken when he passed away when her youngest was in kindergarten. She hasn’t remarried, instead choosing to work two jobs to make ends meet and pay the bills. Her friends say that her heart will always belong to Mateo. She was extremely proud when both of her boys were accepted into LSU.
Family: The Garcias
Iraq veteran and purple heart recipient who left the service trying to start over. Mild-PTSD, which bothers him more because of his mild reaction than its actual effects. Now works for O’Malley as a carpenter, though he’s uncomfortable with his boss’ racism and “hero” treatment of him as a former vet. Tries to play down his military service. Has a pregnant girlfriend at Tulane (Natalia Garcia). Fiercely pro-life, and trying to carve out a future for them both. Had an absent father and grew up extremely poor, doesn’t want his child to go through the same.
Neveah Melanthios, as she’s known in the clubs she frequents, is the type of girl who looks like every stereotypical stripper you’ve ever seen: big hair, big lashes, long nails, tight body. She says she’s not from the city originally, just came here for Mardi Gras one year and decided to stay, and ever since she’s been working at various strip clubs in the Quarter. “Boys are still boys, even on vacation,” as she says. She’s got a handful of sugar daddies that pay for her extensions and glamdrobe (”it’s like wardrobe but glamorous”), a walk-in closet the size of a bedroom, and a booty almost as big as her attitude. Some of her coworkers (”jealous bitches”) claim that she turns tricks on the side and gets a little too handsy in the VIP rooms, but Neveah has never been busted for anything of the sort and she thinks they’re more than a little envious of how much money she brings in each night. That or one of her sugar daddies is on the police force. Or she’s sleeping with the manager. Who even knows with her. She skirts the line between trashy and classy—a delicate line, but she totters right above it in sky-high club heels and sequined party dresses. She looks like the kind of girl who is fond of cracking her gum.
Family: The Malones
Half-Italian 17-year-old up and coming Golden Gloves boxing prodigy from the worst projects of the city with Olympic ambitions. Ricky is a local celebrity on the verge of greatness, if his gambling habits don’t destroy him first. Currently in deep to the mob, who have begun to threaten him. Son of a single mother who worked three jobs to pay for his training and education, and who could not be more proud of her “boy.”
Family: The Pavaghis
For all the wealth associated with the Pavaghi name, not all of that wealth is shared equally amongst its scions. Though Walter had once been looked down on for failing to be as successful as his younger siblings, the real embarrassment came when their younger sibling, Ishita, failed out of Xavier and ran off with her decades-older professor. Three years later she was back with two babies on her hip and no husband in sight. She quietly returned to life under her father’s rule, re-enrolled in college, and managed to earn a degree while nannies and her mother took care of her babies for her. The older of those two children, Zahira, was rebellious from a young age and had no intention of “falling back in” with the family that, in her mind, forced her mother into a career and a life she didn’t want with a stepfather who wasn’t particularly interested in her. Rather than go the traditional route of law or real estate, Zahira threw herself into the creative arts. After graduating high school she took an internship at Bloom Couture under Dahlia Rose, who has taken the wayward Pavaghi under her wing to teach her the ins and outs of the fashion industry. So far she has been exceedingly happy with her new position, and rumor is that she’ll be displaying her own line soon beneath the Bloom Couture name.
Bail Bond Industry Allies
Industry Influence ••••
Deceased: 1996 (age 51)
Family: The Dufreneses
Arnold grew up in the Lower Ninth, a poor black kid who learned early on that he needed a hook as quick as his wit if he wanted to survive. He was in high school when the city finally pushed for desegregation—not that a bastard from the slums would get a fair shot even if he did go to a fancy white school—and the only thing it did for him was make his trek to school that much longer when the city shuffled students around to get with the times. After graduating he started working as a mechanic with his buddy Tuck, but Billion Dollar Betsy swept in a few years later and destroyed the majority of the Lower Ninth, the shop along with it. His was one of the 164,000 homes destroyed; rather than throw in the towel he salvaged what he could of his waterlogged possessions. It was during this salvage job that he found a pair of looters filching things from his elderly neighbor’s house, and rather than sit idly by Arnold put a stop to it. Good thing, too: turned out they were “persons of interest” and his “arrest” got him a hefty bounty hunter’s payout that went a long way to making his life a little bit easier. After that it was an easy swap from one job to another, and Arnold made a name for himself when he tracked down all sorts of “storm skippers” that thought the hurricane made for a good excuse to get the hell out and never come back. Twenty years later he met Regina, had a handful of kids, and started teaching them the basics of his job so they could follow in his footsteps. They were ten when he took Reggie with him on a case and lost his life to a meth lab explosion.
Family: The Dufreneses
Owner of Legalwings Bailbonds, New Orlean’s premiere bail bond company. She started the business in the mid 80s and has steadily climbed to the top, forcing her competitors out of business or simply absorbing them into her company. Now known as NOLA’s Bail Bond Queen, Regina employs a few dozen people in various offices around the city. All three of her sons work for her in various roles. She’s a hard woman with a no-nonsense, no bullshit attitude who hasn’t been slowed down by her advancing age or the death of her boys’ dad.
Industry Influence ••
Family: The Dolans
Patrick had high hopes for his firstborn. He thought that he’d introduce him early on to the cooking life, that he could train the boy’s palate and create a master chef that would make his Aunt Ida proud of the new generation of Dolans. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Benjamin was a sad case in the kitchen. He oversalted. He undergarnished. He couldn’t follow a recipe to save his life. Worse, he liked his steaks well done. “Kill it twice, why don’tcha” his dad would grumble at him. He never had a chance at being a chef like the rest of his family. Fortunately his mother provided another alternative: law enforcement. She got her boy a spot in the police academy and he excelled during training. After graduation he was assigned to the 6th District, but his commander must have had it out for him because he spent almost all his time in the poor, high-crime area of Central City. He started using a little too much force for the police to consistently cover up, and a fairly high-profile beatdown and shooting saw him removed from the force. A week later he was picked up by LegalWings, where he now works as a recovery agent and all-around muscle for Regina Dufresne.
George St. George
Family: The St. Georges
Unfortunate name aside, George St. George is just as successful as his foster siblings. He was lucky enough to be brought into Mary St. George’s home before he ever had a chance to lose sight of who he was within the state’s foster care, and never went through the rebellious teenage phase where he told her ”you’re not my real mom.” A devout Catholic, George joins his family every Sunday for their dinner and had even considered seminary school, though it appears that God had other plans for him. He now works as a financial analyst at LegalWings Bail Bonds, which sounds a little more involved than it is: mostly he goes through people’s belongings to appraise them in case clients default on their bonds or try to flee. He has a strong head for numbers and knowing that things are worth. Unmarried but looking, and recently ended a two-year relationship for “religious differences” after he discreetly fed his girlfriend a pill that would make her miscarry following a positive pregnancy test. Protests outside of abortion clinics in his spare time.
Family: The Crawfords
The prodigal son and only (adult) non-college attendee in the family. Decided to “take a year off” and travel abroad after high school and did that for almost ten years before he finally ran out of money. All his time traveling and making friends has left him with a silver tongue that serves him well at LegalWings, where he’s what he refers to as an intake specialist. He walks the defendants through the process of bail and gets them to sign on the dotted line for as high a percentage as he can get. Anything over 10% he gets a bonus on.
Mariella “Marie” Sheffield
Family: The Cardonas
Distantly related to the Cardona family (yes, that family, the one with alleged ties to the Mafia), Martha wasn’t close enough to the main family tree “to get caught up in all that nonsense.” She was one of Regina’s first employees and has been at LegalWings since her early twenties. Now almost 50, Marie works directly for Regina as her personal assistant. She makes the calls, schedules the meetings, and otherwise handles the day-to-day affairs of the Bail Bond Queen. Other employees describe her as a human pitbull: she’s fiercely protective of Regina’s time and runs the office with ruthless efficiency. Outside of work she’s as charming as any southern belle and has a fondness for pecan pie. She’s married to a contractor and has three kids, the oldest of whom is already making noise about becoming a bounty hunter when he grows up.
Family: The Dufreneses
Randall grew up with the same stories that his older brothers did. He learned how to con, how to read a situation, how to lie through his teeth. He was less interested in academics than Rusty and never quite as good a shot as Reggie, but Randy brought something to the group that the others lacked: an innate sense of danger. Maybe it was a sixth sense, maybe it was a guardian angel, but Randy always seemed to know when the going was about to get tough. Reggie might be able to read a man as well as any card shark, and Rusty might be able to dig up all sorts of dirty laundry, but no matter how deep the shit they were in Randy would find a way out. He knew the city and the outlying areas as well as he knew just how to touch a woman to make her cream her panties; he knew which streets were speed-traps, which cops could be bribed to look the other way, which clients were likely to cause trouble and which would simply roll over. Maybe that’s why he fell in with Jade when he did—because, despite the warning bells going off in his head, she was simply too captivating a woman to walk away from. And when she offered him immortality in exchange for service, well, he was the first of his brothers to jump in feet first. He’s a driver by trade, both for his “babe” and for his family, and he’s the son his mother turns to when she thinks someone might have crossed the border, or when she needs something a little sensitive moved. After all, when you deal with as many criminals as they do, you’re bound to get caught up in something fun sooner or later.
Family: The Dufreneses
If Arnold Hughes could clone himself the result would be Reggie Dufresne. Of all the brothers, Reggie was closest to their father, eager to learn everything that he had to teach and soaking it all up like an earnest little sponge at his feet. He was the first to get his concealed permit, first to learn how to wield a blade just as well as he did a gun, and the first to lose his virginity. Cindy Maltz. He was an early teenager trying to pass as an adult, and Cindy proved the perfect mark for him, never mind that she was 18 and he was 13. Their dalliance gave him a boost of confidence that never left, a self-assured smugness that some might even consider arrogance. But hey, when you look as good as Reggie does, what’s not to be confident about? Reggie served as his mother’s chief bounty hunter and all around muscle as soon as he was old enough to take the test. He’s the guy she sends when she needs to make sure shit gets done right, and he’s one of the few that she uses for her own personal protection if she’s making a public appearance. He runs a con as well as any smooth-talker, too, and knows all the bolt-holes and tricks that their clients like to pull when they get jumpy.
Family: The Dufreneses
His “little brothers” might consider Rusty the odd man out in their trio, but Rusty has something that the other two don’t: brains. While Reggie and Randy were content to learn at their parent’s feet bout bounty hunting and tracking down marks, Rusty was busy learning how to prepare for the future. He knew that life wouldn’t always be like it was then, so when the Internet, cell phones, and computers started becoming a big thing he threw himself into them like a dollar bill in a stripper’s thong. Everyone has a digital footprint, he says, and he’s happy to find it for his mom and siblings to stretch their business even further. He’s in charge of the website, the emails, and all the rest of the digital content that the company needs. More than that, though, he dual-majored in Business and Criminal Justice. He said he didn’t need the official education for tech because “they’re not going to teach the things you really need to know”. He’s less interested in the “macho” field work that his two brothers use to butter their bread, but makes sure to keep himself in shape for the days he gets the urge to put someone’s head through a wall.
Industry Influence •
Family: The Malones
Bette is a single mother to Ricky Malone. She’s the Italian part of her half-Italian son, and has raised him alone since three months into her pregnancy when his father skipped out on them. She didn’t bother trying to track him down for child support and instead committed herself to raising the best kid she knew how. She received moderate assistance from the rest of her family until their falling out when Ricky was five over an incident at his school. She currently works three jobs to pay for her son’s boxing needs, be they private lessons, gym memberships, or other assorted gear. Unfortunately the fact that she’s out of the house so much means that she isn’t around to keep her son from getting into trouble, so she doesn’t realize how deep he’s in with the mob for his gambling debts (or even that he gambles). Hasn’t dated since her son knocked out her last boyfriend in a “friendly” sparring match when he was thirteen, though she’s had a handful of discrete lovers that she doesn’t bring around the house. Works as a cocktail waitress and cashier when she isn’t handling the phones at LegalWings.
Family: The Ratcliffs
Her mother used to say that she was “born middle-aged and gets older every year.” Susan always thought that was a blessing, since it meant that she was more mature than most people her age and had a good head on her shoulders, but it turned out to be less of a blessing than she’d thought when her father got sick and Susan had to pick up a job at 15 to start helping with the bills. He’d already left her mother and brother and there was no one else to turn to. She put her dreams on hold until her father finally passed, glad that she’d had the foresight at least to not take on any of the medical debt herself. But the life insurance didn’t go far, and Susan was left in a bad spot when she had to pay for funeral costs. She took out a loan. Then another loan to pay that one back. And a third. With interest rates skyrocketing, Susan got a little bit desperate. At her brother Jordan’s advice, she started stealing and fencing shit for the mob, but she got sloppy. She was picked up, arrested, and finally released on bail, which is where she met Regina Dufresne. Regina took one look at the girl and knew that she had a smarter head on her shoulders than she was given credit for. She brought her into the LegalWings family and has been a mentor of sorts since, training her in the biz and pushing her through undergrad and now finally law school. Regina’s investment has paid off: Susan will be a hell of a lawyer as soon as she finishes this next year, and she fully plans to take Regina’s offer of staying on and serving as a consultant of sorts for their clients. She’s also secretly dating the much-older John Michael Flynn behind his wife’s back, whose daughter she goes to school with.
Fitness Industry Allies
Industry Influence •••
Status: Fouled Anchor Fitness •••
Retired Corpsman attached to Marine Force Recon turned owner and operator of Fouled Anchor Fitness, a small gym he opened two years ago that caters mostly to former military and offers both fitness and martial arts classes. Meticulously fit, Brian regularly participates in Spartan Races and similar events, and despite his small stature (he’s only 5’6") and age, he is exceptionally strong. Certifies all of his trainers personally—and is himself qualified to teach all of his classes. Between retirement and opening Fouled Anchor, Brian worked for private clients as a trainer. Shoots competitive three gun tournaments regionally and is, in truth, bored since his retirement. Only sleeps 4-5 hours a night and spends 2-4 hours a day working out according to a rigid routine, though he can feel his body beginning to slow down as age catches up. Bald-headed, clean-shaven, and sharp-tongued with a face as craggy as a mountaintop, and piercing blue eyes.
Status: GroundBorn •••
Called Ken or Kenny by almost everyone, Kennedy is an ex-Army and ex-DOD agent who served for six years and six months, respectively. She grew up in the slums of Detroit with an abusive father and no mother and learned from an early age that she had to be just as tough and manly as her name suggested. After receiving an injury that left her body badly damaged with fourth and fifth degree burns, Kennedy was forced to retire from her government job. She spent a few months rehabilitating in a hospital before she moved to New Orleans to get back together with an ex, and shortly thereafter the pair of them opened GroundBorn, an MMA and self-defense gym in Mid-City. Kenny has brought on a handful of employees to assist with classes and personally works with women and teens to teach them how to defend themselves against bigger, stronger, and faster opponents. Twice a month the gym is closed for private events, where her students get to show off what they learned in the octagon.
The co-owner and operator of GroundBorn, Lizzie was born and raised in Peru. She says she can trace her lineage to back before the Battle of Cajamarca and that her family has a history of serving as priests and mamakuna to Inti. She laughs when she talks about her own family: raised with five older brothers, how could she be anything but a fighter? “Bit of a stereotype," she likes to say, but she has made it work for herself. Her preferred style of fighting is Bakom. Invented in the ‘80s by an ex-Marine for the Peruvian military, bakom is a hybrid of jui-jitsu and street fighting that uses both fists and weapons to deliver large amounts of pain to swiftly end fights. Lizzie says it’s more useful in real life than many of the other martial arts people study, but the classes themselves are generally closed to the public.
Industry Influence ••
Amanda “Big Pickle” Dill
Family: The Dills
Amanda knew from an early age that she wasn’t at home in her skin. She never liked the sort of things little boys should and felt stifled by the social norms she was expected to adhere to. By the time she was a teenager Amanda had spoken at length to her family about being more at home as female than male. They were surprisingly supportive of her desire to transition. The rest of the world wasn’t. Mocked for her large size and chosen name (some classmates made snide “a man, duh” quips about it), she would have spiraled into depression and self-harm if her sister hadn’t stepped in. Lacey was suspended multiple times fighting on Amanda’s behalf and eventually angrily told Amanda that she could sit around feeling sorry for herself or she could “do something about it." So Amanda joined Lacey at GroundBorn and the rest, as they say, is history. Amanda teaches conditioning classes that build endurance, strength, core stability, mobility, and flexibility.
Unlike most of the trainers and members of GroundBorn, Ciera didn’t grow up fighting or idolizing fighters. She was a cheerleader and dancer in high school and would have given it up following an assault in her late teens when something was slipped into her drink, but Kennedy refused to give up on her. “You don’t get to let this define you,” she had said, “you are not a victim.” Ciera became her first official student. She realized shortly into her training that her years of dancing had taught her how to be fluid and light on her feet, and her body was used to long hours of being pushed until muscle failure. She graduated from the University of New Orleans and came to work for the woman who changed her life. Ciera handles the business side of things, social media accounts, public relations, and teaches “Fluidity in Motion” once a week, which focuses on incorporating the natural movement of the body into defensive power.
Lacey “Little Pickle” Dill
Family: The Dills
A firecracker since she learned to walk, Lacey came to GroundBorn with her younger sister when she was just a teenager. They were a year apart in high school and Amanda had just come out as trans; Lacey overheard some girls in her grade making fun of the newly-announced female and was suspended for three days when she slammed their ring leader ‘s face into her locker. Two weeks later she was suspended for another five days when she kicked a boy so hard in the crotch after a derogatory comment that his ability to have kids was put into question. Her dad suggested anger management; her mom suggested the gym. So Lacey started at GroundBorn and took to the classes with relish. She got faster, she got stronger, she got tougher; and she isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with people twice her size. She couldn’t get into Tulane University (the only local college with an exercise science degree), but moved back home to New Orleans and started work at GroundBorn once she had her degree in hand. She fights in local circuits and teaches boxing, kickboxing, and HIIT classes. Lacey has a large following on her personal training Instagram.
A trainer at GroundBorn, Kennedy Gordon met Steven when she shipped off to Fort Leonard Wood for basic training. The pair hit it off when they bonded over their derision for another member of their squad that they nicknamed “Candyman” for the candy he was constantly caught with. Almost daily Candyman had Drill Sergeant Yates yelling at the entire company to drop and give him fifty or take another lap. Otts was a big, corn-fed kind of Mississippi boy, one of the few in the company larger than Kenny, but sweet as the apple pie he said his momma used to make. Most people described him as “country as fuck.” He did two tours overseas before he discharged after four years and went back to MS, but when Kenny reached out about the gym he moved his wife and kids to NOLA to teach the youngin’s how to box.
Real Estate Industry Allies
Industry Influence •••••
Family: The Pavaghis
Status: Pavaghi Holdings •••••
Real estate developer and mega-slumlord whose destruction of historic French Quarter properties has made him one of the most hated people in New Orleans.
Industry Influence ••••
Family: The Pavaghis
Status: Pavaghi Holdings ••••
Rich’s fourth-eldest son and perhaps the truest chip off his old man’s block. Where Raj presents a more respectable face for the family, Walter has his Houston startup, Fred went into politics, and Ran handles IT work, Chunder’s role in the family business is simple: he’s a slumlord, and one of the most notorious in all of New Orleans. Housing conditions in one of his buildings were so terrible that the tenants unanimously agreed to stop paying rent. Chunder retaliated (in a series of brazenly illegal moves) by cutting the power and phone lines, changing locks, boarding up windows, and sawing holes in unit floors from below while tenants were still inside. When they called the police, Chunder bribed the NOPD to soak tenants’ beds, clothes, and belongings in ammonia. This story is but one of many (and not even the worst) that tenants in his properties have traded about New Orleans’ “slumlords’ slumlord.” Chunder, though, is utterly without shame or scruples, and openly boasts to work associates about how much his tenants despise him. He’s considered the crassest and seediest of the Pavaghi brothers, but none of them deny: he squeezes his properties for every cent they are worth, and often far more than they are worth. He may well be the family’s biggest earner.
Family: The Pavaghis
Status: Pavaghi Holdings ••••
Rich Pavaghi has many children. Although Walter was born the second-oldest, he never managed to stand out from the rest, and watched for years as his siblings overtook him in the family business (or in Fred’s case, embarked on a successful political career). They were always the ones to close the bigger deals, develop the most properties, and bring in the most money. Frustrated, Walter moved to Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, only to realize there was a lucrative real estate market in the vastly larger and faster-growing city (which didn’t even have any zoning laws, to boot). He could repeat his father’s business tactics here in a “land of opportunity” all without worrying about competition from his brothers. So far the idea seems to have paid off: Walter has solidly established the Pavaghi real estate empire in Houston and pleased his father. In a true chip off his old man’s block, he’s also derided as a slum lord and “vulture developer” by many locals, who dislike him intensely, even if fewer of their complaints revolve around destruction of historic properties in the much younger city. Walter appears blase to such resentment but periodically moves between homes in Texas and Louisiana, as he has a laundry list of complaints about everything from the food to the people in the former. His name comes from a Houston native he married, had one child with, and divorced several years later. The Rodriguezes have deep roots in the city, so he continues to append her surname to his own “for their son’s sake” and to sound more native. He’s also changed his given name to Walter from his birth name of Wafeeq (he was born in India before his parents immigrated).
Industry Influence •••
Status: Canal@Camp Apartments LLC •••
Residential manager who lives on-site at the Giani Building. Hugo is a middle-aged and obese man who is amiable and eager to please around the building’s tenants (or at least the moneyed ones), but alternately lazy and officious towards the maintenance staff. He is adamant in his refusal to take bribes, but only direct bribes—moneyed tenants who desire extra “comforts” in the building find him all-too accommodating in this respect as well.
Industry Influence ••
Residential manager at The Preserve, a Mid-City apartment complex near the CBD. Throat cancer survivor who can’t stand smoking, and has a son who works in a San Antonio law office. She consequently considers herself wise to most forms of verbal trickery and boasts that evasive tenants “only get so far” with her.
Resident manager of Emmett Delacroix’s former Royal Street apartment. Plain-spoken and never referred to by the tenants by any name besides “Mrs. Darnell.”
Mrs. Quách (“Mrs. Quack”)
The landlady of the Mid-City apartment complex Milo Glass calls home. Second-generation Vietnamese immigrant who’s never seen the country her parents fled, although you wouldn’t know it to hear her accent (a peculiar abomination of Cajun drawl and Vietnamese peasant dialect, the end result providing the inspiration for her nickname). She has a predilection for tenants who rarely interact with her, and once evicted a a newly moved-in family because they “said hello too much.” Milo’s persistent ability to blend in with the wallpaper and his willingness to keep the building’s wifi running both went a long way towards getting him the apartment. Though only forty, a few extra gray hairs, a slight stoop, and a sharply antisocial attitude make her seem twenty years older.
Salon Industry Allies
Industry Influence •••
Status: Flawless Spa ••
Alana began at Flawless in 2010, shortly after Celia moved from her loft-styled suite to the building she now runs out of in the French Quarter. She handles the day-to-day operations of the spa, including employee scheduling, inventory ordering, and client relations. She takes care of the little odds and ends that the spa and salon need so that its owner can focus on the bigger picture and her own clients. Though Alana still takes the occasional client to keep her skills sharp and will step in if one of her employees can’t make it in for any reason, she has stepped effortlessly into the role of management and is in the office more often than she’s on the floor. Flawless wouldn’t be the same without her diligence and savvy business acumen.
Family: The Flores
Status: Flawless Spa •••
Eldest daughter of Maxen and Diana Flores, Celia’s dropping out of Tulane University (where she had been a dance major) and subsequent birth of her daughter, Lucy, is the subject of some scandal in certain circles. Celia was able to obtain her esthetics license from New Orleans-based John Jay Academy and opened up her own business in the French Quarter in 2010: Flawless Spa. It began as a day spa and has swiftly become more of a medical spa once Celia opted to pursue a degree in the medical field. Despite her lack of a “real” education, the girl is doing quite well for herself and has quite a large social media following as well as a very successful business.
Status: Flawless Spa ••
Louise was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her mother was a show girl and her father was a poker dealer, so she grew up in and around casinos and glamour. She loved the glitz and glam and wanted it for herself; not to turn herself into something new, but to be able to transform others. At 18 she obtained her Cos license and quickly found her place in the salon world, but a few years later lost her license when her then-boyfriend’s undisclosed wife accused her of sleeping with her clients. She left Vegas behind and moved to LA, then to New Orleans when the company she worked for, Pangloss, opened a new location down there. It was in NOLA that she met Celia Flores, who, in 2014, offered to bring Louise on as a part-time receptionist. It wasn’t enough for her to leave her job completely, but she spent the next year learning the ins and outs of Celia’s salon under the tutelage of Alana Frederick and, in 2015, was promoted to assistant manager. She was pleased to see the back of Pangloss.
Industry Influence ••
Cassandra “Sandra” Burton
Cassandra—or Sandra, as she prefers to be called—was a stripper until she got fat. She blamed the birth control, the thyroid problems, the genetic predisposition to obesity. She blamed O’Tolleys and Cow Lord and Four Lads, serving sizes in America, an unhealthy obsession with being “stick thin.” She used to be a crusader for HAES and took to Mumblr to spout the same sort of “real women have curves” and ”Marilyn Monroe was a size 14” schtick that was all the rage a few years ago. She hated men, hated the media, hated herself. And then in 2013 she had Bariatric Surgery, lost 150 lbs in two years, and has managed to keep it off since. While she was in the process of losing the weight she decided to find something to do that didn’t involve flashing a crowd or grinding on a pole and went to school for Cosmetology. She enjoyed the hair and skincare lessons, but where she really shined was the bodywork. Years of being a stripper left her comfortable enough with other people’s bodies to read their moods and adjust her technique appropriately to give them what they really need rather than what they ask for. When Harrah’s announced that it was hiring girls for the poker room she knew that she’d be a good fit. Indeed, she’s one of the highest earners thanks to her ability to sell herself. She’s also a lesbian, which doesn’t stop her from flirting her way into bigger tips or offering ”extras” to clients that show an interest. She’s currently dating Amber Nichols, one of the dealers in the poker room who often suggests that players get a massage when Sandra is working. Amber seems to think that Sandra’s flirting is highly arousing, and the two often take their breaks together to let off some steam.
Landen grew up knowing that who they were on the outside didn’t match who they were on the inside. They grew up with bullying and an abrasive father and a mother that ”just didn’t get it.” When their ”teenage phase” turned into a lifestyle they were kicked out of their home and made their way to New Orleans, where they fell in hard with the LGBTQ+ crowd and were welcomed with open arms. They went to Cos school and graduated just in time to be snatched up by Celia Flores when she opened her spa, Flawless, who said that she felt a sort of kinship with the androgynous stylist. Despite some controversy, Landen and Celia are very pleased with their working relationship, and Celia is happy to push Landen to pursue their bigger dreams. Lucy Flores, a client of impeccable taste, will only let Landen touch her nails now and swears by their work to all her friends.
Family: The Landrys
A lot of people say that the salon industry is a young woman’s game. They see the glitz and glam of the women who work all around the world at salons—nevermind the fact that men are a very real part of the industry—and assumes that most of them are young, vibrant, and spry. Maybe Madison never heard those “rules,” or maybe Madison just doesn’t care about the rules, because at almost seventy-years-old she’s still going strong. She looks old enough to be someone’s grandmother but lacks the telltale wrinkles and still has a spring in her step, and she credits her good looks and savvy fashion sense to her time in the industry. Madison said she fell into the skincare business after a long career working in the correctional field, when she noticed the general lack of health and pallor among the inmates. She got her start in Hollywood in the mid ‘80s when she was already 40-years-old and names a number of old movie stars among her clients. She credits her time there with the name change from ”Betty Landry” to ”Madison Raine,” which just felt more elegant. She claims to have worked on such figures as former president Ronald Reagan and the Queen of England. Madison “retired” at 60 and moved to NOLA to be closer to her remaining family, then decided to come out of retirement and took a job at Flawless. She still likes to wear a bold red lip when she’s out and about and pairs it with large glasses, dangling costume jewelry, and a fire-cracker personality.
Status: Flawless Spa ••
Piper was one of the first official employees at Flawless. She was hired by Celia after only a few minutes of speaking, where Piper admitted that her favorite color was “sparkles,” her favorite decade was the 20’s, and she has no idea what her 5-year plan is. Celia would later describe her bumbling honesty and erratic energy as ”refreshing.” Despite a rather spotty track record at salons, Piper has proven to be an apt esthetician. She’s a hit with the clients, an incurable gossip, and wants to be everyone’s friend. More than that, though, she’s got a heart of gold beneath the slew of tattoos. She sometimes thinks about what else she can do with her life and knows that she doesn’t want to work in salons forever, but she’s content for now. Outside of work she is frequently spotted in the Quarter at various bars.
Industry Influence •
Erica “Anoushka Petrov” Wheeler
Erica had a pill problem in high school. Well, she didn’t consider it a problem, but apparently the administration, her parents, her therapist, and all her friends considered it a problem, so she ended up spending her senior year in rehab. Rather than graduate as valedictorian and “get out of this shithole city,” Erica ended up with a GED. She might have recovered from the rehab stint if that had been the only trouble she’d gotten into, but apparently she was slinging pills, coke, and heroin to the kids at her school. Because she was a minor she faced minimal criminal charges (or maybe because her dad was loaded and paid the right people to look the other way), but she still lost her scholarship to Brown. Erica ended up attending Delgado Community College with the intent to transfer out after two years, but she ended up enjoying the bodywork she’d started doing and stuck around to take the state test and get her license. She only graduated a year ago and happened upon the job posting for Touch of Luck, then impressed the owner with the trial massage and spunky attitude when she’d interviewed. The owner knew a fellow liar when she saw one, and rather than kick the girl to the curb she welcomed her in with open arms and taught her a few tricks, even helped her get some fake papers with a new name so she could leave the “pill popping” alias behind. Erica has had a bit of work done on her face—injections, rhinoplasty, some filler—and now almost nobody she used to go to school with recognizes her. She uses a Russian accent as fake as her new name to give herself an exotic appeal and even downloaded a handful of apps to help her learn how to speak it for real. She’s a big hit in the high rollers section.
Tina had a hard life. A lot of people think they have a hard life, but Tina thinks that her life might be harder than most people’s, or maybe that’s just the excuse she uses to be as abrasive as she is. Her daddy was a repo man for Auto Recovery, which means he was part grifter, part hustler, part tracker, and part conman. He had a CDL so he could drive his tow truck and used to haul parts across the state for General Motors, which Tina had always thought was pretty cool. Sometimes he’d let her skip school if he was going out of state and take her with him so she could see the road, then have her home in time for dinner. Of course she had to sit on the floor if they passed a weigh station or if he ever pulled into the GM Plant, but overall Tina had a lot of fun with her dad on the road. It gave her an interest in cars that was ”a little unusual for a lady,” and by the time she was thirteen she was about as knowledgeable about diesel mechanics as most girls were about boys and makeup. She might not have wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps by driving them, but she sure as hell wanted to be a grease monkey and carry around a big wrench when she grew up. So it made sense to both of them that, when he became a repo man, he’d take her with him. Maybe they should have realized that no one is happy to see the repo man. Maybe they should have thought about the fact that people don’t like having their property seized no matter what they did to deserve it. All Tina knows is that she was fifteen years old, sitting in the front of her daddy’s tow truck, when she heard the BANG that ended her world. She watched her dad fall, dead before he hit the ground, his face blown off by the double-barrel shotgun the piece of shit that defaulted on his car loan wielded. She watched the man jump into said car and peel out of the driveway then down the street, tires running right through the blood and brains that had splattered all across the pavement. Tina hasn’t wanted to work on cars since. She decided to go into something a little less dangerous once she left high school and settled on Touch of Luck at Harrah’s casino. After all, no one is ever unhappy to see their massage therapist. She still has idle fantasies about tracking down the man that murdered her daddy.