It was raining, the clouds casting a pale, tobacco light over streets that had gone beyond meanness. I'd explored everyone of them, every goddamned alleyway and dive in the city. There was no Bleeding Heart Square, but there was a bleeding heart punk who should have known better. I don't like punks, and just then I didn't like myself very much. I'd been hitting the bottle hard. Sometimes I saw Sheri, sitting cross-legged in the corner of the room. Sometimes she talked to me and then the bottle ran out and I followed it, looking for answers. It was Halli Villegas who rescued me. She saw me in a bar one night and walked over to me.
'You want to ask me some questions?" she asked.
"Sure why not." I had nothing to lose and I still believed in angels. She might have been one.
"And who are you?"
"Halli Villegas," she said. ...more
Well I was back, and if ever a joint got torn apart it was this one: No. 13 The Lighthouse. The smell of Sheri Lamour and Lenteric Confetti tore me apart, and I took it out on the room. I ripped ledgers, curtains, smashed glasses, chewed carpet - imagined it was Bo Chi Sing's face and felt good. I was mad, and that felt good too. Sheri had left something behind, and I would find it, and then I would find her.
I heard steps in the hall, and I turned to see Bo staring at me in surprise. He was gone so fast I thought I'd imagined it, until I heard feet pounding the pavement outside. Whatever Sheri had left behind Bo wanted it too, but he'd come without his coven of goons and he wasn't a man to take chances.
The rage had gone now, replaced by thirst and determination. I scanned the debris and then the remaining bottles lining a glass fronted wall. I was looking for one in particular, Laphroig, Sheri's tipple of choice. The bottle was empty - no surprises there - but inside it was a roll of paper and a whiff of Lentheric.
My hands were shaking. I was drunk and happy; happy and drunk. I was staring at a meticulously drawn map showing Bleeding Heart Square, a cruder diagram of a large wooden leg, and the name Angie Rega. I would deal with her first. ...more
Well waddyer know? The Lighthouse turned out to be a run-down bar in Jackson Heights. It had taken some finding but now I was here, and somewhere behind that door was Sheri Lamour, and her jailer Bo Chi Sing. I gripped the Luger, pulled it out from my pocket, and then, goddamn it, I started to laugh and I couldn't stop laughing. I was laughing when I kicked the door from its hinges. Bo was in there somewhere and he'd be cowering, hiding behind Sheri, using her as his goddamed shield and knowing that Death was smiling at him and sharpening its scythe.
He knew I didn't give two cents for life. Like him I saw beyond it. But I did like killing punks. I loved shooting punks. It was what I did best, that and watching their blood stain the floor red. The room was silent and black as pitch. There was a scent I recognised and it was Sheri's: Lentheric Confetti. It was scent she'd take to her grave - and might if I didn't find her in time. I slammed on the lights and fired a round to show I meant business.
The joint was empty, as empty as sin but Sheri had left me a clue. A name was scrawled in lipstick on a large ornate mirror: Andrew Taylor. Sheri was fond of her lipstick. I just hoped she didn't run out. ...more
I was hunched over the wheel, snarling at cars that got in the way. It was a mess, a giant haystack of a mess. I'd criss-crossed seven states checking out light-houses, each time thinking this was the one. Only it never was and I began to feel that I might never see Sheri again.
Punks like Bo Chi Song don't just happen. Punks like Bo are bred in Hell and serve their apprenticeship here. Only I had got in the way and now Sheri Lamour was paying the price.
I needed a clue and needed one fast. There had to be one and I suspected I'd find it in a small yellow book. It was where Sheri listed Appointments. Okay, I was desperate but Sheri was not only beautiful as hell she had prescience. A nice word if you know what it means. So here I was gunning down a Newport road two hours late. I just had to hope he'd waited - Sheri's last appointment. Sheri's last clue. Jasper Fforde. ...more
Herc had given me an address, a brownstone in a part of Brooklyn where no tree grew. The house was empty but it was the only lead I had - that and a cheap looking desk. On it was a maroon leather photograph album. A snake slithered in my gut as I flipped through the first few pages. And then the snake froze and I suddenly found it difficult to breathe. Bo Chi Song stared out at me from one of the pictures. Standing next to him was Sheri Lamour.
She looked good, her long, raven air sweeping down to her shoulders, her breast pushing against her dress like a held-in tsunami. Her lips glistened and I wanted to kiss them and then ask her what she was doing and why she was looking so goddamn happy...and why she wasn't dead?
At that moment I hated Bo Chi Song ; hated him so hard it tore at my guts; and I wished it all on him - the hurt and the pain, the knowledge that before very long he'd be dead, and it would be my hands gripping his dog-eating throat.It was then I noticed a small patch of red. It was on the floor, half hidden in shadow and curtains that hung like skin on a corpse I walked across, and recognised the colour. I'd just seen it glistening from Sheri Lamour's lips. Somehow she'd left me a message: Alison Moore ...more
Cathryn Grant had said we create our lives inside our heads. I thought about that - Bo Chi Song, the dame with the dress, and the guy who'd rather be wearing it, all of them circling like flies disturbed from a corpse - in this case Big Jake and the leg they were so goddamned eager to find. I'd seen the Maltese Falcon once and didn't understand a word. But a leg, a goddamned wooden leg. Cathryn might have been right, but just then my mind wasn't feeling too creative. I felt my eyes droop, the Lucky slip from my fingers, knew it would burn another hole on a rug that resembled the surface of Mars. One more hole wouldn't matter that much.
The phone shrilled, cutting through a pleasant dream I was having about Sheri Lamour. I reached out, my voice trying to catch up. "Hello."
It was Herc, and he was yelling at me, and my hands felt wet like they'd been gutting chickens. I was catching one word in two and it involved Sheri Lamour.
"Cut to the chase, Herc. Where is she? What's happened?"
He said one word: "Bo Chi Song." And I know that's three, but I wasn't in the mood to care. I was thinking of Sheri, and what that fiend might be doing to her.
"Get over here, Clay." His voice was terse. "My apartment and make it as fast as you can."
"I can't do that, Herc, not yet. Sheri arranged an interview for me. I can't let her down."
"What the heck?"
"No, 'who the heck,' it's Matthew Hall. He's some kind of crime writer, might give us some kind of angle on this."...more
Sheri was curled up by the fire. She'd been crying. Her face was a mess.
"Hey, kid."I threw my coat on the desk and pulled her to her feet. Sheri was all woman but without the antics that came with it. Something bad had happened. Something to do with a Korean warlord called Bo Chi Song, him or one ofhis veiled assassins. Whatever it was had shaken the woman I loved...turned her into a woman who cried. I squeezed her gently, enjoying her warmth, her head nestling into to my cheek.
"There was a knock on the door," she said.
"And you thought it was Bo Chi Song."
She drew back. "No. It was a cop. He said you were in some kind of trouble...it was the way he said it."
Sheri had the soul of a Great White, an efficient, remorseless killing machine. Only with me it was different. With me she was woman, warm and curvacious, vulnerable.
"We have a guest." I said it as gently as I could.
She bit her lip, nodded her head bravely. "I know. Cathryn Grant. Just give me a moment to freshen up." ...more
Nightingale Song, yeah I know, sounds like a ladyboy - only Nightingale Song was less classy. It was a club you'd be wise to avoid, one on its own, turning low-life into specimens for the rich to shiver at as they sipped their overpriced drinks. You know the deal. Bring in a few 'characters': those without teeth or missing an eye, the broads with clothes too tight for bodies you didn't want to see. Atmosphere, they call it. I call it a not very nice smell. But it appeals to people who want to live 'dangerously' and hold down a 9 to 5 job.
Sheri spotted her first and led me across a room full of shadows that shuffled, shadows without faces. I wondered whether they'd ever had them or whether it was something they handed in along with their hats, along with their souls. I was getting a bad feeling about this place, wondering whether it was such a good idea meeting up with Joanne Anderton here.
"It's better than the Rack," Sheri whispered, reading my mind like it was spread out before her.
"The Rack is clean." I said....more
We'd been sitting there for sometime, saying nothing, getting on fine. We'd been buddies once, buddies in uniform facing an enemy that couldn't spell the word. Outside it was raining and the bar was peaceful and warm. "You got something to say to me, Sam? I think you have something to say to me."
He looked up, defeat scrawled on his face. There are six letters in 'defeat' and they don't look good on men with small faces.
"Okay," he said. "Just two words." He got up, threw down a greenback and a jingle of change and made his way to the door.
"Just two words," I shouted.
He turned. "Oh yeah, Simon Strantzas."
I leapt to my feet, excitement writ large on my own pug-ugly features. Sheri was watching from across the bar, and tutted tutted. She didn't need writing to read a man's face.
"You heard of this guy?" I mouthed.
She nodded. "Simon Strantzas. He frightens people."...more
Sputz had been as good as his word. He had got a lead all right. One that led to another dead end. Brett Savory might have been many things, but he was no killer. I stared down at him, Sheri standing alongside...No killer, I thought. I glanced at Sheri. She looked doubtful. Sheri always looked doubtful. It did interesting things with her lips.
"What do you think, kid?"
She sighed. "He's a writer, Clay. Guy knows nothing about Big Jake's leg."
"You think. So why the talk about psychos and killers?"
"I don't know, Clay. Some people are just made that way." Sheri leant over him, her hair brushing his cheek. I wondered what was going on in his mind. If it was me, I'd have been scared. 'Some people are just made that way.' Sheri knew all about that....more