The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Part 8
by Shane Migliavacca
The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Chapter 8 The Opal of Starlight City
With some apprehension Kitty approached The Opal. In her time away the club had become one of the city’s premiere night spots. The main competition was Torchie's on the West Side. That club was mainly frequented by a younger set. Two bear-sized dragons made of bronze guarded the entrance. Over it was neon sign of the club’s name. With Misa at her side they entered. Inside the bright light of day dimmed. Just inside the door, two strapping men were playing cards. They outweighed Kitty and Misa by several pounds.
“What’cha want dame? Club ain’t open til later.” One of the men said. Not bothering to look up from his cards.
“I’m here to see Fiona Rembaldi. I’m her friend Kitty, Kitty Allenby.” She said, feeling the man’s belligerence.
“Yeah, scram.” The second man said, making a dismissing motion with his hand. “We don’t need no more showgirls.” He said looking at Kitty before turning to Misa. “Don’t need no kitchen help neither.”
She felt Misa tense up beside her. Kitty knew her friend had no compunction when it came to killing. She’d just as gladly strike these two down as she would a criminal.
“Perhaps you should tell your mistress we are here.” Misa stated. Her eyes narrowed.
The first man complained under his breath. Dropping the cards to the table. He stood. Looking down at the two girls before him. “Listen Jane, if you know Miss Rembaldi, then I’m Clark Gable.”
“I don’t want any trouble.” Kitty pressed, taking a step forward. She was becoming annoyed with the big man’s attitude. “Why don’t we just ask her?”
The big man blocked Kitty’s advance. “I’m paid to keep trouble out of here. And brother you dames look like trouble.”
He put one of his large mitts on Kitty’s shoulder. She let her body relax. Ready to deal with the man quickly.
“What’s going on here Clyde?”
Striding toward them was a an elegant young woman. Fiery red hair hung over her pale bare shoulders. She wore a slinky white dress with a slit in the either side showing off her gorgeous legs.
“Kitty?” She asked. Her voice an exotic mix of British and Italian accents. “In heaven’s name is that you?”
“It is!” Kitty laughed.
Fiona looked at the two men. “Is there some trouble here with my friend?”
“Naw.” The first man said, scratching his head. “A misunderstanding is all.”
“Good. I wouldn’t want to have to hire two new doormen.”
Fiona took Kitty and Misa down a ornate hallway into the main room of the club. Unlike the entrance is was very bright here. A large stage dominated the center of the room. Girl’s in skimpy outfits practiced a dance number on the stage. A large metal gong stat to one side of the room. A dragon emblazoned the gong’s front. Flanking the room’s entrance were two bronze warriors. Swords held at the ready.
Kitty glanced swiftly around the club. The place had never looked so luxuriant before. The Opal had really changed. The last time she’s been here, the Opal sported a more Art Deco aesthetic.
“This is some place you got here Piggy.” Kitty exclaimed. “It’s magnificent.”
Fiona had earned the nickname Piggy when they were girls. Wearing her long red locks in pigtails to school every day.
“I haven’t heard that in years Kit!” Fiona cried. She took Kitty’s hands. “I missed you.”
“You look amazing.” Kitty said approvingly.
Fiona ran a hand through Kitty’s short hair. “I like your hair like that. Paris, right?”
Kitty laughed. “The latest thing there.” She turned to Misa. “Allow me to introduce my friend, Misa Yoshino.”
Fiona offered Misa her hand. “Any friend of Kit’s is a friend of mine.”
“We met overseas. Helped each other out in some tough times.”
“It sounds like you were there for Kitty. Thank you.”
Misa bowed. “It was as it should be.”
“Can you believe these people!” A man’s voice bellowed through the club.
A middle aged man, his arms akimbo walked toward Fiona. His dress shirt and pants were both wrinkled. His sleeves rolled up, exposing graying hair on his arms. He’d aged since Kitty had last saw him, but she recognized Fiona’s father, Angelo Rembaldi with his typical harried expression.
“These rich fools. Never had to struggle. Had everything handed to them.” He rambled on.
“Poppa?” Fiona asked.
“Mrs. Crowley. She thinks I can close the Opal just so she can have a party here.”
Fiona tried calming her father. “We could Poppa. It wouldn’t be so bad.”
“Bah. I won’t make exceptions for these rich fools. The club should be open to everybody. I’ll not turn away our regulars.”
He looked at Kitty, remembrance played across his face. “Oh, I’m sorry. Is that you Kitty?”
“Yes. Hello Mr. Rembaldi. No need to apologize.”
“Poppa have you had any sleep?” Fiona asked, concerned.
He shakes his head. “No. With the bills that need to be taken care of. Making sure everyone gets paid. And if we have enough supplies.”
Fiona put a comforting hand on her father’s shoulder. “Gets some rest Poppa. I told you I can handle everything.”
“You have to practice your musical number.” He protested.
“And I will. Now get some sleep. I’ll come wake you in a few hours.”
Fiona ushered her father to his office upstairs. While Kitty and Misa waited. She looked across the length of the club. Set off to one side like an island unto itself was a large bar. Upon seeing it Kitty took a deep breath.
She strode across the floor towards the bar. Strange hellish creatures decorated the front of the bar. Frightening Chinese creatures frolicked in a fiery landscape. Behind the bar, a short mustachioed man cleaned shot glasses. A few years ago a bar like this would have been illegal. Thanks to the repeal of Prohibition they were back in force.
She stared at the bottles lined up along the shelves. Glimmering as light bounced off them. The liquid inside shimmering with the promise of a temporary relief from pain.
“Bars closed.” The man remarked. “Come back later.”
Misa cleared her throat behind Kitty.
“Don’t worry my friend.” Kitty reassured her. “Just come to see an old friend off.”
“There you are Kitty!” Fiona called out. Walking over to them across the main floor.
“Would you like a drink?”
The words hung heavy in the air for a minute. A question with some possibilities.
“No. Just admiring the design of your bar.” Kitty tapped on the cold surface of the bar.
“Yes! It’s magnificently morbid isn’t it? Father has a fascination with Chinese folklore you know. You two should talk about it sometime, what with your trip overseas.”
“Yes. Of course.” Kitty answered. She’d never got along with Fiona’s father. She got the sense that he looked down on her. And that he thought she was a bad influence on Fiona.
“You know Kit, you simply must come to see the show some night!” Fiona gushed.
A ruckus came from the entrance before Kitty could answer. The two doormen stumbled in bloodied and beaten, collapsing to the floor defeated.
Four men in long coats and large hats sauntered into the club, stepping over the doormen.
“Good afternoon ladies and gents.” The lead one quipped.
They walked to the center of the room. Kitty saw the flash of gunmetal under his coat. She looked to Misa who appeared ready to strike.
“Not yet.” Kitty whispered.
“Quite a joint you got here.” The leader remarked. “Must rake in the cash.”
He noticed Fiona standing there next the bar.
“Well, who we got here?”
“What do you want?” She asked, voice quivering.
“It’s not what I wants doll. Because I’d want you. No, it’s what my boss, South Side Johnny wants. With Diamond Bill swimming with the fishes, he’s looking to take over.”
“That has nothing to do with us.” Fiona said. Defiant.
The goon leaned in close to the trembling young woman. Touching her bare white arm.
“It’s got everything to do with you. Seeing as Johnny is taking over, he wants a piece of the action. Or else you might start having some troubles.”
Another lousy hoodlum seeking protection. They were all the same. Scum looking to make money off of somebody’s hard work. Men like these killed her sister.
Kitty grabbed the man by the arm. Twisting it and pulling him away from her friend, before she’d even realized she’d done it. Using his own weight against him. Kitty flipped him over her shoulder. Sending him crashing onto one of the tables. It’s legs breaking under the man’s impact and sending him to the floor.
The shocked look on Fiona’s face made Kitty hold back from going after the other men. Instead she nodded to her bodyguard. The Japanese girl understanding, acknowledge with a nod of her own.
Kitty let the second goon strike her. Shifting her stance enough to lessen the impact. She stumbled back, falling to one knee.
That was Misa’s cue to attack. Springing forward, she leaped up onto the man’s back. Wrapping her powerful legs around his neck. Tightening just enough to cut off the air to his head. He’d black out soon enough. Spinning him around towards his two remaining comrades. Kicking off from the thrashing man, she sent him head first towards the other two. They went down in a tangle of limbs. Curses on their lips.
A swift kick to one’s face sent him to dreamland. A well placed chop did the same to the other.
With the three men now out of the fight, Misa made her way to the leader. Coming to on the remains of the broken table. Like a great lioness staking it’s food, she knelt down. A dagger to the man’s throat.
“If you do not wish me to slice you from neck to groin you’ll leave here now.” She pulled his head back sharply with a handful of hair. “Do you understand?”
“Tell your superior: This place is protected. If any harm comes to the people here or the club, I will kill your families in their beds while they sleep. Their bodies will hang from the streetlights. Understood?”
“Understood.” He answered. His bravado lost.
Misa took the gun from him before withdrawing her blade. “Go.”
He stood. Helping the others to their feet before they all fled.
Fiona helped Kitty up.
“Are you okay?” She asked. Surprise and concern in her words.
“Everything except my pride.” Kitty rubbed her reddened cheek. “I need to learn to let my bodyguard do the heavy work.”
“You were amazing!” Fiona rejoiced. In awe of the Japanese girl.
“That’s why I pay her so much dough.” Kitty laughed.
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