Short Story – “En Flagrante” – Part 4
“En Flagrante” by AG Bluvier
Then she headed directly South. There was only one thing in that direction, and it was no place for a little girlie. Heck it was no place for a seasoned war Veteran with prison tattoos, and I wasn’t packing heat. I briefly thought about cutting back through town to get my piece, but no. I couldn’t risk losing the Girl. I had to know what this was all about. And time was short, I glanced at my watch, 5:17. I felt for the matchbook in my pocket and confirmed the locale; The Havannah club. I knew the place. Well, actually I know OF the place. Swanky joint. Not my kinda hangout. Not much time to follow The Crimson Flower over to the docks and then get uptown, but I had to take my chances.
There she was, making her way through the broken down buildings and rubble towards Pier 16. This place smelled like death. She looked unconcerned. I had to get close enough to hear what this was about, I pounded pavement to cut her off.
“CLANK!! THUD, THINKLE JINKLE, BANG!”
Damn! I backed against a wall to stay out of sight. I must’ve knocked, oh, yeah, a pile of steel had landed behind me. Shit! Where? Oooh, I just caught a glimpse of her as she slid into the storage dock. I think I can just get close enough, if I squeeze through here….
I heard muffled voices from the other side of the warehouse “…you go see what that was…” “OK, Juice, but what about the Laydee?” “Never mind that, leave it to me.” I could tell from here that these geniuses were no boy Scouts. OK, it looked like I had some cover over here, and I’d be able to hear better. I climbed up on a pile of barrels, so that I could get a glimpse of what was transpiring below.
Just in time to see her sashay into the room. Something was dripping on my shoulder. I didn’t have time to worry about that now.
“You’re late, Velma”
“I had to…”
“Yeah, yeah, go see your ailing Grandmother. Spare me.”
“Do we still have a deal?”
He grabbed her roughly by the hair. “That depends on you, now doesn’t it, Dollie.” He raised his fist.
“No!” Her hands flew in front of her face. Too late, he’d backhanded her across the cheek.
“DON’T FUCK WITH ME VELMA!”
She was sprawled on the floor, golden hair fanned out around her. She dragged herself up to her knees, then drew herself up to her feet. She actually seemed taller than before. “I HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE!” She spat the words into his face. Then her whole being changed, she got soft again. She almost jeered at him “Besides Juice, you know as well as I do, that you need me.”
“Just bring me the proof. Midnight tomorrow night – or you know what’s gonna happen.”
She spun around and was gone.
I scrambled to get out without being heard. Damn, just my luck there was a Goon at the entrance I’d squeezed into. I looked around for another way out. I had to get outta here. Shit. I dived into a pile of sawdust, just in time to stay out of sight, the first Goon was back. “I didn’t see ‘nuthin’ Boss.”
“Nevermind.” snarled Juice. “Get me the asset.”
There was a long, high pitched whine, like a dog that had been beaten. At first I couldn’t tell where it was coming from, and then I realized it was the Goon. “Do I hafta?”
“JUST DO IT.” Screamed Juice.
The Goon scrambled away.
I peaked out, to see if the coast was clear, but there was that Goon again. This time dragging a girl. She was limp. Dead? I ducked back again. There was something familiar about that girl. I waited for them to pass before I climbed back up on top of the barrels. Damn. Something was sticky here. I could barely get my foot out.
“Uuuuahhgghh.” she murmured.
“Wake UP Lizabet.” Juice was staring at her intently.
Her head bobbed weakly. “Whattt dyah wannt?”
“I’m giving you a break tonight. But if your sister doesn’t deliver by Midnight tomorrow – you know what that means.” He grimaced at her. She shuddered visibly.
I looked down. The door was clear. This might be my only chance to get outta here. I scrambled down and squeezed through it and into the cold night air. It was late, damn. Too dark to read my watch. Only one thing to do, get to The Havannah as fast as I could.
My feet were slamming into the concrete as I cleared the Dockyard. My flesh creeped across my back as I put distance between me – and IT. Not enough distance in this whole floating country to suit me.
As I passed under the street lights I tried to read my watch, but I wouldn’t slow down, not yet. I still couldn’t tell what time it was.
Finally, I saw the lights of town up ahead. Once I got to the first street light, I allowed myself to stop running. I could finally read my watch. 9:52. Crap. All I could do was hope the esteemed Carlos Santorini hadn’t left the Havannah Club by now.
I got across town in record speed, but I slowed down a block away, just to catch my breath. As I got to the club and walked in, the Girl at the front gave me one long up and down stare. Geez, I knew this joint was high-class, but you’d think they’d have better manners.
People kept staring at me. You’d think I had an extra arm or something.
Making my way into the club, there were tables everywhere. Men packed into every one of them smoking cigars. I grabbed a cigarette girl and asked her about Santorini, she pointed to the table front and center, “He’s the only guy here who DOESNT’ smoke Cuban cigars.” She sniffed. “Then what does he smoke?” “American.” she said with disgust. At least he was here.
I took a seat at the bar at the back of the room so that I could see the action. Just then the singer came on stage. I’d know that figure anywhere. She was announced as “The Glorious Miss Rose.” Geez, this Orchid dame had more faces than the Wax Museum. But she sure could sing, and these guys all knew her judging by the racket they made as she opened her act.
And then she started peeling her clothes off. They went wild. I couldn’t move. I was transfixed. Then I looked around at this pack of hungry wolves and my mind became a buzzing hornets nest. I started to sweat and my throat constricted. I couldn’t stand watching them watching her. I hadda get out of there…
My chest was heaving as I staggered into the bathroom. I stumbled to the mirror to splash some cold water on my face. Whoa. What the hell happened to me? It took me a minute to figure out what I was covered with, as I started to wash it off. Red, that was blood. Not mine, I checked. The left side of my face was streaked and tarred. My shoulder and neck were red with blood and I looked as though I was wearing a particle board trench coat. Great. How the hell was I gonna get cleaned up?
I was working on this particular problem when I heard the music change. I peeled off backstage to catch – what should I call her?
I nearly bowled her over as she came out of the dressing room. “Shoe!” She started.
“That’s right Miss Rose, or whatever your name is.” She looked down. “And why do you look so surprised to see me? You were the one who told me to come here after all.”
“Let’s get outta here”
Behind the Havannah club the cats were crying for scraps, but we paid no attention.
“This way.” she pulled me towards the woods.
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