The tension built steadily, based primarily on the fact that Claxton resented Eddie’s rise and saw him as a threat to his own position within Marzette’s kingdom. These suspicions were further solidified in Claxton’s mind when he saw Eddie starting to become the jewel of the boss’ eye due to his great earning skill and surpassing himself as Marzette’s most desired social companion.
The first sign that things were going south came when Claxton stopped returning Eddie’s phone calls. Next, he stopped showing up in person at their weekly “sales meeting”, sending a crony instead. It wasn’t long before Gentlemen John had cut him and his crew off all together, refusing to sell their organization any heroin.
What started as a minor rift due to petty jealousy had developed into a full-blown feud and hatred between the two drug bosses. Under normal circumstances, this type of beef would immediately be sorted out and mediated over by Marzette. However, at that particular time, the reputed Godfather of the Motor City’s Black Mafia had more pressing concerns to deal with than the schoolyard-type spat going on between his top two lieutenants.
For the previous few months the Marzette organization was under siege, in the midst of a street war raging for control of Detroit’s inter-city drug market that Marzette himself started. On top of that, the 44 year old kingpin was dealing serious health issues related to a failing kidney.
The early-1970s were tumultuous times for everyone involved in the Detroit underworld. Sides were being chosen and the battle would be intense and bloody. Eddie Jackson saw this unrest among his peers as an opportunity to make an eventual power gran himself. He planned and plotted stealthily, sitting back in the shadows as those around him fought it out amongst themselves for the top spot in the local narcotics market, a spot he desired and knew could be his i
Eddie Jackson was content to sit in the background while the two warring drug factions slugged it out and killed each other, keeping a low profile and out of the way of any and all flying bullets. Although, officially he was under Blaze Marzette’s banner and sided with his boss, the Fat Man was always more diplomat than dissident. He didn’t believe in extreme violence, feeling it was bad for everybody’s bottom line and preferred negotiation and compromise as methods of resolution.
Jackson was a pragmatist though. And he understood that violence was inherently intertwined throughout the world he did business in. He also realized he could spin the situation to his advantage by scooping up all the territory left in the wake of the dozens of dealers who were killed off in the war.
The only lingering problems over this time period for Eddie were a steady supply connection and his own personal beef with John Claxton. Eddie and Gentlemen John had grown to hate each other and it’s alleged that Claxton went to Marzette for permission to have Jackson murdered and Marzette refused. Before things could come any further to a head and in a stroke of good luck for Jackson, Claxton was jailed for income tax evasion.
In early-1971, Eddie partially solved his next problem by finding himself a stopgap source for his dope in Denard “Devil” Jackson, a highly-feared and well-respected independent wholesaler, whose days on the street were numbered since he was out on an appeal bond facing impending incarceration for a previous narcotics-related conviction. The drugs were still coming in, but not nearly at the rate Eddie desired. Plus, he knew his relationship with Devil Jackson was only temporary considering his legal problems.
Whether or not his boss won or lost his current street war was of little consequence. The word was out that Blaze Marzette was living on borrowed time. His kidneys were getting worse and doctors told him there wasn’t much chance of him surviving more than another year or two. There would soon be a void at the top of the city’s drug food chain. And The Fat Man was intent on filling it.