The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Part 2
by Shane Migliavacca
The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Chapter 2 Prodigal Daughter
The elevator groaned loudly on the way to the penthouse. There was a small part of Kitty Allenby that wanted the cable to snap. Plunging the three inside it to their doom. She clutched the gold pendent around her neck. Kitty dreaded seeing her parents again after five long years away. There’d be so many questions about her time in Europe and Asia. Her mother would want to know why she hadn’t written them more then a handful of letters since leaving. What she’d done, who she’d met. They’d have every right to be upset with her of course. It was just that she wasn’t ready to explain herself. She couldn’t. After her sister Carol’s death, something broke inside Kitty. She knew she had to escape Starlight city. Lose herself in drink and dance.
The elevator jerked to a stop. The teenage boy operating it had his eyes firmly glued to Kitty’s traveling companion. Misa Yoshino. Her assistant, bodyguard and most important of all, her friend. The boy had been gawking at her the whole ride up. He didn’t even notice the elevator had stopped.
Kitty cleared her throat. “Kid, we’ve stopped.”
“Oh. Sorry ma’am.” The boy blushed. He quickly opened the door for them. Smiling meekly as they exited.
Kitty grinned. Her face hidden under the shadow of her wide brimmed green hat. It matched the sleek green dress she was wearing.
“I apologize for that my friend.” Kitty said. She wondered if bringing Misa with her had been the right choice. There were quite a lot of ignorant people around. Kitty knew the answer to that. Misa would stick by Kitty’s side from now till doomsday.
The young Japanese woman smiled. “There is no need. You take more offense to it then I.”
Emerson the butler greeted them at the door. Just as she’d feared, the doorman had phoned up and told somebody they were on their way.
“Pleased to see you again Miss Allenby.” The old butler’s eyes widened as he noticed Misa.
“Please allow me introduce my friend, Misa Yoshino.”
The butler recovered from his shock quickly. “Pleased to make your acquaintance young lady. Any friend of Miss Kitty is welcome here.”
Kitty wasn’t so sure her parents would feel the same way.
“Misa, this is my family’s butler, Thomas Emerson. He’s served my family since we…I was a little baby.”
“It’s been a pleasure. Most of the time.” He smiled.
Kitty loved the old man as if he was her uncle or grandfather. In many a way he’d raised the sisters as much as their parents had, if not more so. Her father was often busy running the Starlight Chronicle. The biggest newspaper in the city. While her mother was busy with overseeing their penthouse home and the family’s country residence. Not to mention all the social events she was involved with. It was too easy to lose track of two young girls. That’s what butlers, maids and nanny’s were for.
“Do they know?” Kitty asked, feeling out the situation.
“I took it upon myself to not say anything to them after getting the call. I figured you’d want the element of surprise. I do hope that was the right decision.”
Kitty smiled warmly at the old man. “It was indeed. Thank you.”
“I’ll take your baggage.” Emerson offered.
Kitty and her companion were traveling quite light. With only a couple bags between them and a steamer trunk.
“That’s everything miss?” The old butler looked perplexed.
“I don’t carry around a lot of junk anymore.” Kitty said, taking the leather handle on one side of the trunk. Misa took the other.
“I should get that ma’am.” The butler said, taking their bags.
“It’s fine.” Kitty assured him. “I don’t mind a little work.”
How different she must seem from the last time she’d set foot here. Would her parents recognize her? Would they even welcome her back? She’d left them in a time of terrible grief. It was a selfish choice. One Kitty couldn’t take back, but perhaps one she could make up for. She’d grown much since then.
Kitty took a deep breath as they entered through the large double doors leading into the penthouse proper. The main room appeared more lavish then she remembered. The double doors swung shut behind them with a loud click. There was no going back now.
“Emerson?” A familiar woman’s voice called out from one of the many rooms of the penthouse. “Do we have visitors?”
A tall elegant woman with long, graying blonde hair strode into the room. Reading glasses dangled from a chain around her neck. A large old book cradled in her arms. She wore a flowing dress, a bit more extravagant then needed for reading. Kitty had forgotten this was her mother’s time for reading.
Joan Allenby expression went from mild annoyance to shock as she recognized her daughter. She set the book down on a table without ever taking her gaze off the young woman before her. The woman started to rush forward towards Kitty and caught herself. Walking over to her daughter, the woman embraced her.
“Catherine?” Joan asked, her Irish accent warmed Kitty’s heart. “Is that my daughter?”
“Yes mom.” Kitty could hardly contain the joy she felt. “I’m home. If you’ll have me.”
“Of course.” Her mother’s voice almost cracked. She was too proper to let her emotions to show through for very long. “Your father might be a little harder to sway.”
“How mad was he?” She asked. “Is he still?”
“We were both very hurt when you left Catherine.” Joan took a deep breath. “You know how your father is.”
Kitty did indeed. Robert Allenby was famous for his ability to hold a grudge for a very long time. It was something that served him well running The Chronicle.
“Is he here?” Kitty wanted to get the chewing out her father had in store for her over.
“No, he’s already left for work. This Scorpion character struck again last night.”
“Some new mobster in town. Bloody business. He’s killed many of Diamond Bill’s gang.”
“Does Dwight still work at the paper?” Kitty asked, trying to change the subject.
“Oh yes. He’s the editor now. He’ll be happy to see you.”
Kitty was so sure he’d be glad to see her. Dwight Severn had been Carol’s fiance at the time she’d been killed. They were part of a large rally on the boardwalk against the gangsters and corruption running rampant in Starlight. As a warning, someone bombed the rally. Killing ten, including Carol. Dwight had been injured but survived. Carol had wanted Kitty there. She’d had better things to do…drinking with her girlfriends. If she’d been there…
“Fiona will be happy as well.”
Fiona Rembaldi. Kitty and Carol’s best friend since school. Another person Kitty would have to apologize to.
“I’ll have to go see her.”
“Let me see you.” Joan said. “Take off that hat.”
Kitty took off her large green hat, revealing short blonde hair underneath.
“What did you do to your lovely blonde hair honey? It used to be so long. That looks like a boy’s haircut.”
Kitty blushed. “It’s all the rage in Paris right now.”
“Parisians.” The woman shook her head.
Joan sized up her daughter. Making her do a little spin. Kitty had always been the taller and more athletic of the two sisters. Carol preferred books like her mother. Never really getting interested in sports or going out with school friends like Kitty. They’d never spent very much time together when they got older.
Joan noticed Misa standing next to Emerson. “Who’s your friend?”
Misa stepped forward as Kitty introduced her to Joan Allenby. The Japanese girl bowed respectfully to the older woman. If she was upset at all with an added guest, Joan didn’t show it.
“Your friend can stay in the guest room. Your room is the way you left it. Provided of course your father agrees.”
“Perhaps I should go see him.”
The Chronicle building loomed over all it’s neighboring buildings. An Art Deco tower with four structures at it’s top that reminded Kitty of large wings. Giving one the sense the building could fly off into the heavens at a moments notice. Staring up at it’s top gave her the sense of falling.
Downtown Starlight was just as Kitty remembered it. Hustle and bustle as it’s citizens hurried about. Keenly unaware of the corruption lurking below the surface. Unaware of the suffering and poverty that existed side by side with them.
The large lobby was dominated by two large stone angels. Their arms outstretched. Welcoming. Forgiving. The elevator was crowded. Kitty kept her hat pulled down. She didn’t want to recognized just yet. If she changed her mind about seeing her father, she didn’t want someone telling him she’d been here.
Kitty opened the locket she wore around her neck. Inside a worn picture of two smiling girls. Her and Carol. Kitty had been thirteen, Carol eleven when the photo was taken. The locket like Kitty had been to hell and back in the last five years. She looked at the picture often. There were times Kitty couldn’t remember her sister’s face. The sound of her sister’s voice was already lost to her. The thought that she might forget her sister completely terrified Kitty.
By the time they arrived at the floor with her father’s office there was only Kitty and the operator left in the elevator. She’d left Misa back at the penthouse, something her friend strongly opposed. Seeing her father was something Kitty needed to do alone.
“Crimson Scorpion strikes again! Underworld panics!” A mans voice bellowed from down the hall. “There’s your headline! Not this other rubbish. Nobody is interested in the heat wave anymore. It’s old news.”
Her father. Robert Allenby was hunched over a desk, making one of his employees regret coming to work today. A thin man in thick glasses hurried out of the room, his face bright red.
“Daddy?” Kitty said, her voice filled with hesitation.
“What?” He looked up from the desk. “Catherine?”
Kitty nodded. “I’m back.”
Her father straightened up. He walked over to her.
“For the longest time I was very disappointed in you. When you stopped writing altogether, I was so mad I told myself I didn’t care. You hadn’t cared enough for your mother or I to stay. Seeing you here, now I told myself I wouldn’t let you off for what you put us through.”
Kitty felt her heart sink. Here it was, what she’d feared. Her father’s world famous grudges. He was going to send her packing.
His eyes narrowed. “And yet, I can’t find it in my heart to hate you. Your my daughter. I can’t erase the pain it caused. I can forgive you and hope you forgive yourself.”
That would be the real work, forgiving herself, if she could.
He hugged Kitty tightly in his arms, lifting her off the floor.
“I missed you and mom so much. I’m so sorry.”
“I know dear. I know.”
Later Kitty unpacked her stuff. Misa helping her. They stood over the large trunk in Kitty’s room. It felt like she’d never left. Her room was as she remembered it. Misa took a bundle of clothes from the trunk.
“Will you be going out tonight?” She asked, putting the clothes in a large wood dresser.
At the bottom of the trunk, Kitty opened a small compartment, inside two automatic pistols.
“I think so.”
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