Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Mel/Johnny (Mel does not appear in this chapter), President, Doris Rogers, John Dillinger, Sr., J. Edgar Hoover, Carter Baum
Fandom: Public Enemies
Genres: Challenge, Drama, Holiday, Mystery, Romance
Rating (this chapter): G
General Summary: A fortuneteller predicts an unusual twist.
Chapter Summary: Johnny wakes up in a bizarre new world.
Date Of Completion: September 28, 2011
Date Of Posting: October 10, 2011
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Universal does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1515
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Written for my 2011 Guns_Fedoras Public Enemies Fic/Art Halloween Challenge. Option 1: (Elements of Halloween used set in or around Halloween: (The Twilight Zone, Candles, Tarot Cards, Crystals, Crystal Ball, Jack O’Lanterns/Pumpkins, Black-And-Orange, Witches, Ghosts (Paper Cut-Outs).
The entire series can be found here.
I need you."
"When The World
Turns Upside Down"
Johnny managed to shower, shave, and dress, going out to the cheerful, yellow-painted kitchen, accented by a small pumpkin on the counter. He drank his orange juice and ate the bacon and eggs, glad that President was a good cook.
Mel had mentioned that he was.
He was confused that President did not seem perplexed by Johnny in Mel’s place.
I must still be dreaming.
“I took the liberty of packing your snack, sir.”
“Oh, um, thank you.”
President handed him a brown paper bag and his briefcase after he had brushed his teeth and put on his greatcoat and fedora, both black, and fitting him perfectly, just like his suit. The clothes were cut with quiet elegance unlike the flashier styles that Johnny favored. He went out to the garage and saw the gleaming Pierce Arrow, Mel’s pride-and-joy.
Why I am playing this charade? I should take Mel’s car and take off.
But when he got in the car he found himself driving downtown, parking on the street outside the Bankers Building, and riding the elevator to the 19th floor.
Well, this oughtta be good.
He got off the elevator and walked to the door with the frosted glass bearing the letters of its name.
What? The Purvis Squad?
A bemused Johnny entered the squadroom, agents already busy at their desk. A pretty brunette looked up and smiled. “Good morning, Mr. Dillinger.” A Jack O’Lantern was perched on the corner of her desk, and she wore an orange-and-black dress, and orange barrette in her hair.
“Good morning, uh, Doris.”
He had remembered Mel mentioning President, and now was meeting the woman he had conversed with over the phone several times. She had happily served as liaison between him and Mel when necessary.
Johnny hesitated, then headed for an office that he figured must be Mel’s. He went inside and saw a modest office with an oak desk, padded chair, a steel filing cabinet, and a coatrack. He hung up his coat and hat and placed the bag on the desk, which held a pencil cup filled with pens and pencils, a stack of file folders, a gold-framed picture, and a small pumpkin.
The picture must be Mel’s relatives.
Johnny sat down and stared at the photograph. He did not understand why this was happening. Why was he sitting at Mel’s desk wearing Mel’s clothes while staring at a picture of Mel’s parents? He had seen a similar picture in his lover’s wallet. His head was swimming.
I’m living Mel’s life but am still using my name. What the hell is going on?
The phone rang and Johnny automatically picked it up while still trying to puzzle out his situation.
“Mr. Dillinger, your father’s calling.”
“Put him through, Doris,” Johnny said before he realized what he was saying.
The sound of a cultured voice came over the wire, oddly lacking a South Carolina accent but still aristocratic.
“John, you haven’t called.”
“Sorry, Dad, I’ve been so busy…”
“Chasing scum like Purvis and Nelson? You should be back home, practicing law here or being a gentleman farmer.”
The accent sounds Indianan, so that must be one heckuva farm if dear ol’ Dad says I can be a gentleman farmer.
“Well, Dad, I might someday, but I’m needed here.”
“Seems like any buffoon can mess up and let Purvis get away.”
Johnny was stung for Mel. “Well, Dad, someone’s got to do it.”
“Yes, but why does it have to be you? You have family obligations, John. It’s time you lived up to them.”
Feeling a headache coming on, Johnny said, “Listen, Dad, I’ve got work to do.”
“Don’t brush me off, boy. You listen to what I have to say.”
Out of respect for Mel’s father, Johnny kept the earpiece propped between his shoulder and ear, but his attention was on the contents of the top file folder from the stack on Mel’s desk.
A photograph of Public Enemy No. 1, Melvin Purvis, looked back at him with Johnny’s trademark smirk. He was instantly drawn to the man in the photograph, noticing the slicked-back hair, the expensive white shirt and the mesmerizing eyes: dark-brown with glints of gold, that sensuous mouth curved into the smirk that Johnny knew well that people took note of. This was a man of daring and dash, the kind that Mel could be if he was not weighted down by responsibilities.
“Did you hear me, boy?”
“Sorry, Dad, my secretary just entered the room.” Which was the truth as Doris entered with a smile, carrying a stack of papers. “Gotta go. Talk to ya later.” Johnny hung up with a sigh of relief.
“Tough call?” Doris asked sympathetically.
“You don’t know the half of it.” He frowned at the papers. “What’s all this?”
“Paperwork, my dear. Reams of it, since we’re working under the No. 1 bureaucrat in Washington. His soul delights in it.” She looked over her shoulder as if half-expecting someone to be listening.
“Ah, yes. Bureaucracy.” How does Mel stand it?
“Mr. Hoover has very strict rules, and if anyone violates them, you’ll answer to him.”
“I’ll answer to him?”
“You’re the boss.” She tapped the stack. “Sign on the bottom line.”
Johnny grimaced. Being the boss of his gang was fine, but all these nit-picky rules were not.
Doris left the office to return to her desk. Johnny looked at the stack of papers and shook his head, wishing that he could plan a new bank job instead.
The phone rang again and he picked the handset. “Yes?”
“Director Hoover, sir.”
Johnny’s fingers tightened around the handset. “Patch him through.” This could be interesting.
“How are you this fine day?”
“Just fine, Director.”
“Now why so formal, John?” Hoover’s voice oozed over the phone. “It’s Jayee.”
Johnny’s stomach turned over but he answered smoothly, “Okay, Jayee.”
Johnny rolled his eyes, safe from Hoover’s prying eyes.
“Now, John you must tell me all about your latest leads. I will not have that Southern cracker get away with mocking us, do you hear me?”
“Yes, sir.” Johnny kept scribbling his signature on the endless papers.
“It’s a bad thing, this flouting of the law. Pretty Boy Purvis makes a mockery of all that’s good and decent.”
That’s Mel, all right, a veneer of goodness and decency, but a saucy one beneath it all.
“John? What do you say to that?”
"Well, sir, I know that Mel…Melvin is an expert bank robber.”
“Bah! Expert, my foot! Now, John, give me a rundown of what’s going on.”
Johnny bit back a retort. How did Mel stand this, a disapproving father and a meddling boss?
“And perhaps, if you’re really good, I’ll have you come to Washington and really show you my appreciation.”
Johnny nearly slammed the phone down. He felt his skin crawl as Hoover cooed nonsense to him, doing his best to woo his favorite agent.
Mel had hinted at how Hoover was hot-to-trot for him, but I never realized that it was this bad. Oh, Mel, honey, why didn’t you tell me?
Anger built up in him as Hoover continued making a shameless pass at the man he thought was his fine, upstanding agent.
What kind of world is this? I must be dreamin’. Mel, darlin’, wake me up!
“You are the handsomest of all my fine young men of the right sort,” Hoover purred, turning Johnny’s stomach again. “With you by my side, we can bring all the Public Enemies down.”
“But, sir, what would Mr. Tolson say?”
“The Associate Director, sir. I thought he stood by your side.” And has for years, you ungrateful wretch.
“Ah, well, something would be worked out, dearest. I’m good at personnel issues.”
I’ll bet. Wonder how faithful ol’ Clyde would feel being considered a ‘personnel issue’?
“Now, tell me your leads.”
Johnny hastily looked at the notes on Mel’s desk and bluffed his way through the rest of the phone call.
Finally, it was over. He tried to be as pleasant as possible, even with Hoover cooing in his ear, and hung up with a sigh of relief.
“Director give you a tough time?” asked a handsome agent in the doorway. Johnny recognized him as one of the agents who had accompanied Mel to the Tucson jail for their first meeting. What had Mel said his name was? Oh, yeah, Carter Baum.
“You know how it is.” Johnny shrugged.
“Yes, I do.” Carter’s voice was sympathetic. “Ready for lunch?”
“It’s that time already?” Johnny checked his watch and saw that it was noon. He had not even had time to look and see what President had packed for him for a snack. His stomach rumbled.
“Yep. Want to go to O’Reilly’s?”
“Good, my treat.”
“Carter, my man, that sounds even better!”
Carter laughed, and Johnny grabbed his coat and fedora, glad to get out of the office.