The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Part 9
by Shane Migliavacca
The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Chapter 9 Intersections
After Kitty left, Fiona saw her injured doormen off to the hospital. Both men had took a fair beating from the mobsters. The doctor expected them to be ready to come back to work in a day or two. That’s of course if they wanted too. She wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t. Between Kitty and the ruckus with those mobsters Fiona hadn’t gotten much time to practice tonight’s number. Frankly she was exhausted. Upon getting back to the Opal she went upstairs to check on her father. After her mother had passed, Fiona and her father agreed they should move into the upstairs area of the Opal. It was empty save for the second floor office. The house held too many sad memories. And living above the club proved cheaper.
He wasn’t in his office. She’d gotten him to take a nap on the couch. So Fiona went up to the next floor where their living quarters were. She had to tell him about what had transpired downstairs, as much as she wished otherwise. He father had enough troubling him without having to think about the mobsters trying to weasel protection money out of them now.
His room was empty as well, the bed still made. There was only one other place up here he’d be if he wasn’t downstairs in the club. The shrine. That was her name for it. Fiona’s father called it a memorial. No matter what they called it, it gave Fiona a ghoulish feeling.
As she’d suspected her father was there. Kneeling before a large glass case. A air tight coffin containing the preserved body of her mother. She worn a white gown. Arms folded over her chest. Appearing to be slumbering rather then dead. He’d insisted despite her protests to have her body sealed away and kept here like that. In a large glass casket. Unable to bare having her buried in the ground. Unable to handle the thought of her body rotting away. No one knew about it outside of them. Fiona felt ashamed having her here like this. On display.
She felt badly for her father. Fiona didn’t know how to pull him out of the sadness that consumed him. For her the club kept her occupied. For awhile it had him too. Recently he’d started to slip back into the old behavior becoming angry at everything and then succumbing to his grief. Locking himself away to weep all night.
“Did you sleep any Poppa?” She asked in almost reverent tones.
“A little.” He sighed. “Why did she have to die? Your mother never hurt a soul. Yet the wicked and spoiled live rich, long lives…Why?”
She didn’t know how the answer him. Didn’t know how to ease her father’s pain.
“Come away from here Poppa. I’ll make you something to eat, yes?” She said hopeful.
He sighed. “Yes.” He answered, standing up.
Fiona made her father a sandwich and some salad. Finding herself quite hungry she had the same. They talked, Fiona working towards telling her father what had happened. All the while keeping a eye on the clock. She needed to try and get a little more rehearsal time in before the club opened it’s doors tonight.
Finishing her meal, Fiona decided the time was right. “Some men came to today. They wanted money.”
Angelo’s face went slack. “What is this? What men?”
“Some hoods. Working for some South Side Jimmy or Johnny? Ii doesn’t matter. Kitty and her friend sent them packing. You should have seen them. They beat the tar out of them…It was amazing Poppa!”
He shook his head. “These men. Full of greed and malice. They come here. Into our home now!” His fist struck the table. Rattling the empty plates.
“Easy Poppa. They’re gone now. It’ll be okay.” She reached across the table. Setting a comforting hand on her father’s.
“My sweet child. It’ll never be okay. There will always be men like those. We will never be free of their evil.”
Fiona manged to get her father to lie down. Telling him it was the only way she’d go down to the club and rehearse. Satisfied she’d won the battle for now, she went down where everybody was getting along quite well without her. The Opal staff were all hard workers, there was no doubt of that. Some not as good at their job as others, but they all tried their damnedest.
By the time the doors swung open to let in the night’s crowd Fiona felt as ready as she was going too. Welcoming them at the door. A big smile on her face. Even though she wanted not to be here tonight. Her heart skipped a beat when she spotted a welcome face among the crowd. Kitty had come! Her bodyguard in tow. Fiona waved to them. Their presence lifted her spirits. Helping her focus during her first number. A rendition of Anything Goes.
Afterward she went down to Kitty’s table. Out of breath, yet feeling exhilarated as she always did after performing.
“You came! Thank you.” Fiona said, breathing heavy.
“Wouldn’t miss it Piggy! You were fantastic!”
Fiona talked to her friend briefly before making her nightly rounds. Talking to the club’s various patrons she noticed a shady looking man in a cheap suit hanging around the bar. He’d been there all during her first number. The man looked like a thug or a cop. And felt like trouble.
Making her way to the bar, Fiona decided to feel him out.
“Enjoying the show?” She asked.
“You knocked them dead red.” He laughed. Appearing little embarrassed by his own remark.
“Thank you…Mr. uh?”
“Jenkins. Phil Jenkins.”
Phil “Jinx” Jenkins felt as out of place as could be around some many nicely dressed folks in the Opal. When his day started he’d never envisioned himself being someplace like this tonight. He’d figured on being drunk on his couch. That cat in his face wanting food. Not itching like crazy in a cut-rate suit.
He’d been throwing darts at a cut out picture of the police commissioner from the newspaper. Roxy was listening to Wilbur White on the radio. Old WW was up to is usual shtick. Blathering on about the ongoing mob war and how the Crimson Scorpion was behind it all. Why Roxy liked that muck raking was beyond Phil’s grasp.
Over the droning of Wilbur’s voice came a knock at the door. Jarring Jenkins from his apathetic stupor. In walked the most well dressed Jenkins had ever laid eyes on. The dame had to have money. Which meant a nice payday for old Philly.
“I saw you picture in the paper Mr. Jenkins.” She started. A rich Irish accent if he wasn’t mistaken.
“Oh, yeah. That.” He blushed.
The paper had run a little article about his dust up with Goose’s gang. He hadn’t read it. Not wanting to get steamed if they brought up his less the glorious past as a cop.
“You have quite a reputation according to the article.” She continued.
“Not all of it bad I hope.” He laughed.
The woman was unfazed by his quip. “I get the feeling you’re a man who gets things done. A man who knows his way around the city’s seedier parts.”
“That you can be assured of ma’am.” Jenkins smiled.
And with that he had a new job, tailing the woman’s daughter around town. The girl’s parents were worried she was back to her old ways. Since he’d started this afternoon he hadn’t seen much of that. The girl and her friend did some shopping and went to the museum before heading to the club. Jenkins had to do some wheeling and dealing at the door to get in. His last bit of cash now gone. The redhead singer had talked with them a bit before coming over to the bar. Jenkins was fairly certain the girl hadn’t even touched any booze while they were here. Though he’d put away a couple himself. How he was going to pay for the drinks, he hadn’t worked out yet.
Maybe it was the drinks talking for him when he started laying it on thick with the fire haired singer.
“What time do get off?” He asked. If she was friends with the daughter it stood to reason she might know something. Besides she was a looker.
“Too late for you.” She shot back. Her eyes sized him up. “Enjoy the show.” She said, before walking away.
Jenkins whistled under his breath. He had that way with women. The ability to send them running.
He did enjoy the show as she belted out another tune. Dancing girls putting on a show all the while behind her. Keeping his target in view the whole time. Finally after a few words with her friend, the girl left with her companion. The two strolled down the sidewalk. Threatening to be lost in the throng of people coming out of the club.
Jenkins followed them through the crowd. Doing his best not to be too obvious in the sea of fancy clothes clad in his cheap suit.
Briefly losing sight of the target as a large woman and her equally large husband blocked his view. The couple discussing the finer points of current events in Europe.
Frustrated and desperate, the P.I. pushed past them.
“I say Martha.” The man snorted. “The lower class really have no manners anymore.”
He caught sight of his quarry just as she slipped into a cab. He swore under his breath. Giving a half-hearted case of the cab on foot. His eyes shot around looking, waving his arms about Jenkins tried hailing a cab to give pursuit. The cabbies knowing a bad tipper when they saw one ignored the crestfallen P.I. altogether.
Gathering his thoughts, Jenkins continued on down the street. The sound of people fading in the distance. As he had the darkened street to himself. He’d have to pick up her trail again tomorrow. As long as she didn’t get herself killed tonight.
Jenkins stopped walking. His instincts told him something was quite right. He wasn’t alone he thought. Seconds before he felt a steel blade pressed to his throat.
“Careful what street you take.” The voice hissed. “One could lose their way.”
“Who?” The blade pressed tight to his neck drawing a drop of blood as the question was spoken.
With those words the shadow and it’s blade were gone. Jenkins put his fingers to the tiny cut on his throat. Someone didn’t want him snooping around. He smiled broadly. That meant he was on the right track. There was something going on with this Kitty Allenby girl. And he’d be damn if he didn’t get to the bottom of it.
Rubbing the top of his head, Phil Jenkins wished he hadn’t lost that blasted hat.
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