The Hideout

thehideout

This hotel room was where they would wait, the ex-cop and the gangster’s moll.
She’s out of patience, and he’s out of ice.
The clock on the wall reads 3 am. Cabs and bums howl below.
She won’t let down her hair. He won’t loosen his tie.
There’s a revolver in his shoulder holster. In her bag, a small pistol.
A bellboy keeps checking in. Maybe he works for the Feds. Perhaps he does hits for the syndicate. Could be he wants another look at the dame. Maybe he’s wildly good at his job.
The moll wants to chat, and the cop wants to brood.
Ten more hours to go.

 

Champagne Punch: Ch 1 A Pre-war Bloodstain

 

funtionalwithalcoholChampagne Punch: Chapter 1 A Pre-war Bloodstain

I said, “Jesus, Lou.”And then Lou said, “Sorry, Clark. I’m sorry. Jeez. Does it really smart?”

It did.
My face.

Or more specifically my nose having been more or less busted open against a cold, oak table (was it oak? I was never good at wood). The inner contents of said nose had pooled on said oak (?) into an unusual pattern inked out in a vibrant crimson color with flecks of gray and a mournful violet. The sharp line, the organic nature of the composition, the sense of movement and stasis, predicted decades of post-war American art. Lou was an action painter, I his brush and pallet, and the table his canvas. Lou- an artist before his time. But that evening, in the hot and damp interrogation room that smelled vaguely of sauerkraut (or maybe that was Lou), we had merely a typical example of a pre-war bloodstain. Except, of course, who the hell knew this was pre-war? Or, I guess, it’s kind of always pre-war, isn’t it?

“Nothing three more martinis wouldn’t fix,” I said as I pinched out little red clumps from my damn stylish pencil-thin mustache.

I wanted a peppermint candy I’d been saving but couldn’t quite get to my pocket with my wrists in shackles. So I had to do a kind of shimmy to wriggle the candy onto the floor where I could dip down and retrieve it.

The twitchy dance steps made the giant cop chuckle and shake his head. Good old Clark. I grinned, squinted and then sneezed out a bubble of red goo. Lou handed me a used hanky. Good old Lou.

“Nothing three more martinis wouldn’t fix,” I said as I pinched out little red clumps from my damn stylish pencil-thin mustache.

“Do you know where they’re holding my wife?”
“Nobody tells me nuthin’, Clark. You know that. But, Jeez, I’m sure Mrs. Runyon is safe.”

I shrugged. I couldn’t recall the last half hour or so of the party and consequently hadn’t the foggiest what state my wife was in when they took her away. I did remember ordering the sixth gin martini for each of us, so I had a guess. Either she was a bubbly delight or a thunderous disaster. Judging from the state of my nose and the dreary condition of my confinement, I reckoned it was the thunder.

“Well,” said I, “if she’s in a cell I hope it’s a padded one.”
“I probably should hit you again, Clark. Or I ain’t really doing my job.”
“Sure, Lou. Sure. Not the nose again, OK?”

Bam. Pop. Clunk.

Good night.

 


I came to a little while later.

A woman was standing opposite the table that was maybe made of oak (table and woman). She wore a distressed evening gown and a violent look. Her hair was wet and matted. The big red splotch on her green silk gown was beginning to dry. A dead fox hung lazily off her shoulders, his glassy eyes were a warning to future victims. “Look out,” he seemed to say, “this one’s a killer.”

I gave the old gal a friendly wink and a shackled wave.

“How are you, Doris? You look well.”
“You smell like the bottom of a lake,” she said.
“Then I’ve smelled worse.”
“Worse, huh?”

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