Gum Belle, Episode III
There was a sound behind Frank like a snake burping and his neck burned. Blood trickled down his spine in a warm, wavering stream. He had a moment of clear and lucid thought -- Did that muther just shoot me? -- before he slammed into the alley wall and collapsed.
Vincent Salucci walked over to his car and picked up a telephone receiver mounted on the back of the drivers side seat. There was a moment of static on the other end of the line, then Eddie the Rats nasal voice came through. Yeah, boss?
The couriers down. Pick him up.
Sure thing, boss.
Soon enough, the lumbering, armored, six-wheeled monstrosity of a van that they had used for the Confidence job screeched to a stop at the other end of the alley. Eddie, Brick Mick, and a few recently-promoted soldiers jumped out, picked up Franks prone body, and hauled him inside.
You sure about the drop-off point, boss? Eddie asked over the phone, as the van
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The tall, handsome waiter moved easily through the pale wonderland that was the Plaza Nightclub. The tables were pearly white, the chairs were white ash, the floor was white marble, and the plates were pure white china. He himself wore a white uniform, and he delivered the food and drink with hands encased in white cotton gloves. Each table was set with a tall white candle, and he made sure each was lit with a pure, alabaster flame as he passed them by. The bandstand, all silver and stucco, was stocked with very fine musicians in bright ivory suits that glittered in the stage lights. They played the latest music; the Big Band stuff that was all the rage with young people like the waiter.
White, you could say, was the color of the day at the Plaza Nightclub, which made the six big men at the owners table so very conspicuous. They all wore dark suits with matching snap-brim hats pulled low over their eyes. Several wore black leather gloves, and their oily patent-leather loafers lur
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It was snowing on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall.
The woman in black burrowed deeper into her coat and rubbed her hands together beneath her fur hand muff. It couldn't be warmer then fifteen degrees Fahrenheit, and the harsh, blustery wind made her face numb and stiff. No wonder the lovely lads in the press department called this the Cold War.
She turned down a narrow, dingy alley, her boot-heels clicking briskly on the cobbles. Something vaguely human was huddled beneath a pile of white-dusted rubbish. She made the effort not to look too closely at it. She couldn't afford pity. She was on the clock.
The alley opened onto a street. Across the way was a local bar. Its small-paned windows were too frosty and fogged up to see inside, but two drunks slumped by the front door, singing boisterously in German. Best to move now, before they saw her and wondered why the pretty lady was skulking in the shadows. The woman in black twitched her s
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a spray of gas bombs hit her square in the face and blossomed into sickly green fumes. Gum Belles eyes rolled back in their sockets and her head fell into a stack of her own coiled neck. The crooks van roared off, its six heavy wheels leaving deep tire tracks in the unconscious womans shapeless body. Bum Frank coughed and sneezed and struggled against the belt that kept him tied the deathtrap that was now the freighter Confidence, but to no avail.
Just then, FBI Special Agent Lionel Ricketts awoke with a gasp and a pounding headache. The Confidence was littered with bodies, and there was a big pile of some rubbery red sheeting in the middle of the deck. The custom armored jobbie was long gone, but the cloying stench of the gas was everywhere.
What a mess, he grumbled. Leave it to the criminal element to vomit all over six months hard work. Jenkins was still curled in a fetal position next to one of the gangsters, whose gas mask ha