En Flagrante Part 5
by AG Bluvier
We stumbled through the underbrush, and she all but dragged me to a small bridge. From here we could see and hear the voices behind the Havannah, but we were hidden.
“He’ll leave at around 1:30″ she whispered “That’s when you’ll have your chance.” Her body was pressed against me, she was shivering.
“Whoa there sister. Not so fast. Let’s get a few things straight first.” I grabbed her, maybe a little to hard. She let out a cry, and then I remembered that she’d been thrown around earlier, I let go of her.
“Yeah, let’s start with that. What’s with the rough and tumble down at Dock 16?”
She looked up at me for a long minute. “If Carlos isn’t dead by tomorrow at Midnight, then Juice will –”
“What? What will Juice do?” This dame was starting to make me mad. I wanted some straight answers, and I wasn’t in the mood to wait for them.
Just then a shot rang out. I turned and saw a commotion in back of the Havannah. Santorini was in the middle of it yelling orders.
“Over there. The woods. Get moving.” He screamed. For a cat that looked so cool on the outside this guy had a temper like a wildfire in a hay factory. Next thing I knew Orchid was over the edge and into the water. Damn. I dove after her. Not much of a river, but it was deep enough to carry us. I caught up to her, we made it to shore a half mile down stream.
We were both half drowned and soggy as week old corn flakes.
“All right Girlie, it’s time to get some things straight here.”
“I know a place where we can get dry.” Well I wasn’t about to say no to that. We were both too cold to talk. 12 blocks later and we were in the dry, luxury spread of the penthouse at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Without a word she headed for the shower, but I stopped her.
“When we both get human again, I want answers.”
“No disappearing acts this time Petunia.”
“I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”
“All right, little Miss, I wanna know what you’re up to.”
“Cigar?” She offered me a Montecristo. Smooth. I guess she expected to be here a while. I took the cigar, seemed like a fitting salute for a dead man.
“First off, who’s suite is this?”
“Doesn’t he live here? What’s he need the suite for?”
“Yes he has a house here, no he doesn’t live here. And he uses the suite for Entertainment.”
“Is he married?”
“Then why not use his house?”
“He uses the house for other purposes.”
“Out with it Daisy-May or whatever your name is. Velma.”
She held my eye steady, no reaction at all. “Sure, you can call me that.”
“I wan’t the story, all of it. It’s time for you to start squawking. Where I come from killing a man ain’t an everyday thing.” She didn’t blink. This dame was pumping ice water through her veins. She turned away.
“It’s hard to know where to begin.
“Try the beginning.” She turned back towards me.
“I was born in Russia. I was – brought here – when I was 14.”
“By who? The guy at the doc?’
“He has a rivalry with Carlos Santorini.”
“But now you’re Santorini’s girl.”
“Sure, you could say that.”
“And you’re the way for Juice to get close to Santorini.”
“I’m the only way to get to Santorini.”
“Nobody will touch him for any amount of money.”
“Money can do a lot of talking.”
“They’re too scared of him, of Juice, of the war between them.” I waited for her to continue, she did. “You see, Juice does’t just want Santorini dead, he want’s PROOF of a certain kind.”
“Yeah, so what.”
“Santorini has a tattoo on his left arm.”
“So Juice wants the arm?” She nodded slowly, “Yeah, that’s gruesome, but not terrifying.”
“No. It is the Tattoo that is terrifying. El Diablo.”
“Big deal lady.”
“You know that this Island is Catholic, yes? Do you also know what Santaria is? It is an ancient witchcraft, after which Santorini is named. The Little Santaria maker is the meaning of his name. Santaria is a very dark and very powerful worship of the Devil.”
“And so everybody is afraid of the Devil and won’t touch him?”
“Not quite. It is not just El Diablo, it is what he is doing that is so – disturbing.”
“What is he doing?”
“I do not want to say.” Fear crept across her face, the goosflesh on my arms was getting goosflesh.
There was a long pause.
“Let me get this straight, if, in, your little scenario, Santorini is the messenger of the Devil, who exactly is Juice?”
She whispered, and I could barely hear the words escape from her lips, ‘El Diablo himself.”
“Now why would the Devil want to kill his own messenger?”
She wheeled around and yelled in my face, “Because he is trapped! Because Santorini has him on call, under control!”
“You’re crazy lady! There’s no way to control the Devil! And why are we even having this conversation, this is crazy talk.”
“Believe what you will, but someone will win, either the Devil or the Santorini. This all started long ago. And it will be finished by Midnight tomorrow night.”
“And that’s where I come in.”
“Yes, that’s where you come in.”
“I’m just an average guy, a nobody in your little pawn game. What’s this got to do with me?”
“Oh sure. Don’t act so innocent. We all know better.”
It was like ice water had been splashed in my face. It wasn’t possible that she knew, was it? I grabbed my coat and fumbled for the door, it was time for me to make my Sionara, to head to Kansas or Podunk Iowa, or anywhere, it didn’t matter anymore.
I was racing down the Hotel stairs when the thought struck me, “If what she’s saying is real, and true, then there was a debt to collect – and not just the money I owed to my Bookie.” I doubled my pace and headed straight to my own cramped little room. I had to get there, and fast.