FanFiction: Darby Leighton’s Soft Revenge

Spoilers! If you haven’t read the first two books in the AULD IRISHTOWN trilogy. This POV character story is also at (

February, 1919

I’ve been banished to the shadows of the night.
It was Dinny Meehan’s doing, I blame him.
At morning’s light I retire and revel in dreams of vengeance.
I pride myself on pragmatism and knowledge, but even I know he’s an ancient.
I could never beat him one-on-one, for he is a fashioner and an artisan of the material world, as they say in Irishtown.
But there is such a thing as soft revenge.
And soft revenge I shall have.

Darby Leighton

Darby Leighton, the loner and the outsider. Even his Aunt Rose left him when he was a child.

In 1891, I was born within earshot of the Bow Bells.
London-Irish, though I moved to Irishtown when I was four years-old with my psychotic older brother, Pickles.
Our Aunt Rose hated Brooklyn, so she left us there to fend for ourselves.
The streets of Brooklyn’s Irishtown made us. We weren’t the only ones, either.
But in those days, Irishtown was filled with stories and divinations and old-world spells.
And gangs.

There are many in Brooklyn who believe Dinny Meehan is the result of pagan prayer.
He doesn’t seem to come from the same place as the rest of us.
I first noticed way back in the year 1900 when myself, Pickles and a few others followed Coohoo Cosgrave, the first leader of The White Hand.
Child thieves and cutpurses, our headquarters was underneath a windy, decaying pier.
The police called us “water rats.”
Dinny seemed to come from nowhere, an 11 year-old mystic who could beat up grown men seemingly without effort.
And boy could he provide, a valuable gift for a kid among the swarm of poor in New York.

Final Diddicoy cover

The first book in the Auld Irishtown trilogy LIGHT OF THE DIDDICOY (2014), includes Darby Leighton.

Coohoo knew Dinny Meehan was chosen, and so he elevated him above both myself and Pickles.
I wanted to follow Dinny too, but Pickles wouldn’t hear it.
Dinny became Coohoo’s right hand, and the gang earned enough money to feed the desperately poor in Irishtown.
Of course, that caught the interest of the gold-toothed chieftain, Christie Maroney.

Coohoo had to pay tribute to Maroney, who ruled Irishtown and the dozens of dock gangs in Brooklyn at the time.
The thing was, everyone hated Maroney because he invited the police and the Italian and drugs into Irishtown.
Even prostituted the Irish girls.

The old-timers in Irishtown, who originally settled the neighborhood during the Great Hunger, had prayed for a new leader to kill Maroney and reinstate the old Brehon ways.
But everyone thought the old-timers were superstitious fools.
I did too.
But Dinny Meehan with his stone green eyes rose up like a prophet, answering their pagan prayers.

One day in 1912, my brother Pickles, Dinny, McGowan and a very young Vincent Maher shot and killed Maroney in a saloon between the bridges.
At the murder trial, Harry Reynolds sat next to Sadie, my cousin, although she was in

On the Docks

Dead man, Brooklyn 1912.

love with Dinny.
Then something crazy happened and right then and there I knew Dinny was destined.
He was exonerated! while Pickles was set up for the whole thing and sentenced to Sing Sing.
The old-timers of Irishtown were in shock, their prayers answered and a wild celebration was set off.
That’s when Dinny banished me to the shadows, never allowed to work on his docks.
Too close to my brother Pickles, I suppose.
And too close to his wife Sadie, my cousin.

Ever since then, I’ve been on the periphery.
“Eightysixt,” as they say in Irishtown, while Pickles sits in a Sing Sing cell.
Now I’m always on the outside, looking in.
I can’t even work with Bill Lovett, the dockboss down in Red Hook.
But I made my way.
And I paid attention to what was going on, from the perimeter.

Then I dared to stand with Bill when he revolted against Dinny Meehan in 1917.
But everything went wrong, Dinny had manipulated the waterfront winds against us.
And that’s when I learned about the powers of Dinny Meehan and “Auld Irishtown.”

Exile book cover

The second book in the Auld Irishtown trilogy, EXILE ON BRIDGE STREET, includes Darby Leighton.

Dinny made a deal with the ILA allowing the Italians of South Brooklyn to cross the Gowanus Canal and take over half of Red Hood.
Next thing I know some moon-faced ginzo is pointing a gun at Bill’s head.
But we turned the gun around on Sammy de Angelo.
Bill shot his .45 in that ginzo’s face as I held him down.
I felt the life blow out of him, scariest thing I’ve ever seen.
And now I’m deaf in one ear.

But things got even worse after that.
Bill was charged with murder and was sent to fight in the Great War.
So I decided right then and there, I’d get my revenge on Dinny Meehan.
Although I could never beat him one-on-one, there are other ways at bringing him down.
I finally realized my talents as an outsider, so I started spying on the White Hand from afar.
Everyone needs information in Brooklyn.

But then I heard Bill Lovett was killed in battle.
The worst news I could’ve gotten.
My revenge on Dinny Meehan suffered another setback.

Now though, my brother Pickles owns the inside of Sing Sing for Brooklyn and 100 valuable soldiers are at his command if he’s ever released.
I decided to start talking to my cousin Sadie again, who married Dinny and has a child with him.
I suppose guilt makes people do the damnedest things, and without her husband knowing it, she started giving me money to hire a lawyer to help get Pickles out of prison.
So I hired Dinny Meehan’s lawyer, Dead Reilly.
But Pickles is no gang leader and if I was going to get revenge, we’d need a real commander.

Now don’t ask me to explain it, but Bill Lovett came back to life again.
Back from the Great War, but damaged from his journeys.
He’s putting together a gang to fight Dinny again.

Bill Lovett

William “Wild Bill” Lovett. Bel

In the shadows where I live, he handed me his .45.
The gun that would guarantee another war here in New York.
I gave it to Richie Lonergan, who then killed Dinny’s cousin and Red Hook dockboss, Mickey Kane.
It’s gonna get bloody in Brooklyn, it’s gonna be a horror, I know it.
But this is my chance. My chance to make it on the inside.

Nobody knows this, but I’ve started a family of my own.
I’m in love and it’s brought hope back into my life again.
What? Am I supposed to be an outsider forever?
No, I’ve been saved by her and have reemerged, kind of like Bill Lovett.
Me and her? We got married in New Jersey so no one in the gangs would find out.
And we just had a baby, her name is Colleen Rose, Colleen Rose Leighton.
My God, what a little miracle is she.

I can’t wait to tell Bill Lovett what I’ve been doing for him in his absence.
That I’ve set it up so that he’ll not only get Pickles as a soldier, but 100 ex-cons on parole.
Not to mention, I got his arch-enemy Dinny Meehan’s wife to pay for it.
This is my chance.
Once I get established with Lovett and we win the war against The White Hand, I’ll get my own territory.
I’m going to be a dockboss.
I’ll be able to provide for my family then and I won’t have to live on the outside ever again.
And I’ll have my revenge too.
I’m no lost soldier anymore.
And I’ll be on the right hand side of Irishtown’s newest leader, Wild Bill Lovett.
You watch.


About eamonblog

I am Eamon Loingsigh, author of the Auld Irishtown trilogy. The first book in the trilogy is "Light of the Diddicoy," which was published by Three Rooms Press St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2014. The second is "Exile on Bridge Street," also published by Three Rooms Press, October, 2016. This blog is mostly concerned with the books and the history of Brooklyn, the Irish-Americans and the gangs of Brooklyn and New York. I have also written lots of other stuff, namely two other books, the first called, "An Affair of Concoctions" and the book of poetry, "Love and Maladies." There are also articles sprinkled around the internet about anything from the anarchist movement of the Spanish Civil War to the French Symbolists of late 1800s Paris to the Irish Famine. With a degree in journalism and a passion for writing, there are lots of topics I have covered. To get in touch, send an email to: Oh by the way, my last name is pronounced "Lynch." Eamon Loingsigh
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