It paints each face. Eight loungers crowd the election map with Hricko and Peachy to my left, while Andrew right. Ends remain empty. Only sitting do I notice Peachy wears leather moccasins not stilettos. Beaded moccasins our hat-check lends to customers with wet feet. Eyeing the change casually I tease her. "Thenthank G*d our flooded parking lot is not knee deep. My shrimpers togs are belly-high."
"Broke a heel, Saul in Bens pick-up. Off-the-beach I hate pink sneakers. But, Saul to the rescue; your hat-check gal is a dear."
"Problems during the drive, Ben? Bridges north side of the harbor safely open?"
"IOP bridge is closed, both directions. Two Molson SUVs drove into each-other, each speeding visibility zero in the wrong lanes. Body count gonna run high. We swung over to Sullivans Island and luckily crossed the draw-bridge."
"Wappo Cut bridge is ... hesitant tonight."
"Ben Sawyer not much better. The bridge was locked open when we arrived."
"Not another fool passage?"
"The worst! A pilot-house schooner had tried running the bridge and hung-up on riprap beside middle pilings. Mast sticking up from the Inter-coastal right through the roadway; two sailor-babes screaming at their keel." His hawk-nose points up. " Rain beat merciless on us, Saul, a growing line of cars behind. Yeah we bitched!" Hricko bites smoke from his Camel. " You know how people are. After sharp discussion over relative social value the bridge-op closed the draw, clipping the schooner mid-mast while pulling the hull past the bridge-line." Hricko chuckles snidely. " Solved that problem. Everybody has insurance ... I hope."
I force a laugh. "You were first over, then ..."
"Second. An old Beemer sat first, roared across and weaved down Ben Sawyer, some punk Niggar throwing coke-cans out the open window."
An electric passes 'round. Hricko is always armed, and I feared ..."And you did ...?"
"Would'a done nothing, if a Coke hadn't hit the pickup that ol' Geeche gal drives who lives swamp-side, across from the fort. Smokes cheroots. Uses the F-150 to deliver her woven baskets, and this gawdawful night prolly returning from a customer. Last year I had to clean out a rattlesnake nest under her pilings, but generally she's a pretty independent lady. Doesn't deserve a beer-can broken window. I got plenty pissed-off."
"And you did ..."
"Well couldn't help the Geeche-gal just then, but we drove up along-side the Beemer, and pushed him off the road, into the swamp. My pick-up's a heavy item; kiss-and-tell more than enough. High tide, so the bastard tumbled once, then bellied into pluff-mud brine up to the windshield. Bantus are exempt from seatbelt laws, cause black soul is sensitive and belts remind Niggars of slavery. Bastards head smashed through the windshield. Hope the mocs get him before the gulls ..."
Hricko leans back and lights into a new Camel Straight. Pinch-face I smile ... muse a little ... frown. Hrickos story carries a long dark tail, like a die that goes out-of-square every 10-th throw. "Fair Dinkum tale, eh Hricko?" He says nothing. "Scratch your '67 Chevy?"
"Not at all. Peachy has a very light touch on the steering wheel."
Peachys' hands spread wide in exclamation and blush favors her cheeks . A foolish man will miss the cold steel glint behind warm emerald eyes. Green sparklers shine. "Raining geese and gosling, you must know. Couldn't see the main-beams, only amber fog-lights Ben installed. And Punko weaved every time he threw a can. That's how I broke my heel, Saul, stomping on the accelerator when we pulled alongside. Damned Hricko made the gas a hard-punch pedal ... and while he was giving me poochy-dog eye-rolls I had to punch it !"
Caught-up in Peachys' tale I am, but from behind comes the squeak . "That ain't nothin' for a dame. I had a client stiff me once, always wore hi-fashion blueberry silk shorties to the office, but covered them with shin-high black Doc Martins. Said she had to elevate to stay out of debt and I should get on the ladder. Was she promising me something?"
"Sammy! How many months? ... you look wonderful," squires Peachy, slinking from her lounger to greet him. "Ben says hospital nurses treated you like a hero; same floor same ICU that saved him."
Levine blushes at the cheek-pek. "It was nothin', rain-water , chocolate eclair Peachy-pie like your ball-N-chain went thru wet marl. He took a pound-a-lead. I had one crocodile tooth in the liver. Dr. released me two days early said he ain't never seen such a tough piece-a-meat!"
"You will never be late .. will you Samuel?" Nor I think ever produce value, a PI specializing in grift-ridden family law! So enters laughing Samuel Levine, bottom-feeding bed-weasel, my useless BIL and Sarahs brother. "No doubt, Sam the strumpet paid you what you earned. Better I invited her ..."
"Nobody calls me Sam!" Sam tips a sodden pork-pie hat and removes the pea-coat weathered , dripping and threadbare. Orange tie and vest clash with decency. Only his brown wingtips advise success. "And bet'cha climb her ladder in a Detroit minute."
I spit. "Broch! Low-life!"
"One mans canape is another mans dessert." He slouches into a lounger. Broken glass touches his voice. "I spoke with Sarah, Saul and she is not happy." His face a few pounds less than chubby twists. "She suffers a good wife; mebby like the Rabbi says G*d watches ... while a rat bites your ass. I know a couple ..."
"Oh lordy, but you dare-not Samuel. Mercy sakes the PETA people will see you pilloried!" Schvindler hurries toward the womans deep southron drawl. Hurries and ... for a flaw worthy of replacement ... hurries behind ... behind Eve DeLeon.
"The ravishing Eve," I exclaim! Her boots of Spanish leather move in silence; a flawless woman young women envy in naked black pearls and white wool Peck-&-Peck. The Detective , trailing muddy boot-prints is on her arm. Eve notices ...
"What a mess we've made of your rugs, Saul. Nicolas would have worn his peacocks, but Mr Betters guarded our front door ... insisted on the weatherproofs. Such a dear ..."
"No problemo Misses D. Nicky might'a hadto kick a duck out'a the road. I got steel-toe special built for that!"
DeLeon laughs. "That's OKey, Sammy, animal cruelty is only dyke screws, no heat and a month-of-dogs at County Detention. Of-course ... Department has a lil' off-site job in Costa Rica just waiting for a volunteer. Call it a vacation ... cause Cartel's been serving American tourista watered tequila. A bed, three squares and a check ... if you return. Even comes with life insurance ... insurance for a man one step slow ..."
"Nooo I ain't goin' to Casta Riccico. Sounds like the tarbaby gig Sargent Bowers and I played in La ... except betcha most Costas speak English. City Station took a month returning my Nikon; remember that Detective? Besides I hate new hemispheres; traveling south gives me hives like swarthy Jakes-on-a-plane. Makes ya dizzy ya know, the coreolis force spinning you around. And I choke on burritos; Uruguay steaks too. All meat no fat!"
Eve DeLeon pouts at her husband, turns flashing a Cheshire-Cat grin. "And Sammy, you would never find as good a martini as these ..."
"As they ought to be," I add remembering the quip:one martini at table, two at the very most. three I'm under the table, four I'm under the host. Smartly divided between very dry gin and smoked salmon, both chrome trays as in appearance and quiet movement the silk-vested , sequined black haired beauties at service. "Jane and Jill, my friends. Both ladies on exchange from Haifas' finest 3-star Michelin, they will provide both enigmatic smiles and our needs for the evening. Liquor, lobster, she-crab ... or prudence ... you will find no skill lacking in them."
Warily. "Skill like you wouldn't believe," gapes Samuel, too obvious seeing something that makes his eyes bulge. Have the Detectives eyes narrowed?
Rarely do I dissemble. An honest man, and a smart one has no need for such liberties. Indeed, both young women had worked at 8, restaurateur Roths epicurean 3-Star. "One on the right, Samuel, with 3 olives. Beefeater I believe is your preference." An execrable gin ... Jane holds out the icy crystal and Sam bolts from his lounger.
"She's not holding olives, but they float. 'bout time this boin didn't skimp on the liquor."
"Detention Center inmates brew their own from cabbage and turnips," quips the Detective handing Eve into a lounge. "Cheers Saul. Baby Jesus loves you," he tones, hiding well his distaste for anything , but Wild Turkey & ice.
"Who's missing," queries Eve, eyeing the empty loungers and busy smoothing and straightening her husbands tie. Manicured fingers glide, one over another. Both wear plain gold wedding-bands. Eves invisible ROCK, its source and care is a rumor among Battery and yacht club matrons about which the Detective will yield no privacy. MS PEEPERS --- the weekly gossip column Eve writes for the Charleston Gazette --- will allude to a Detectives Follywhen scolding Charleston excess, but whether the ROCK ... or DeLeon himself is meant ... or wayward friends always remains obscure.
"Two," queries Nicky? "By the loungers we expect 2 more." Stiff-shoulder before a judge, or casually comfortable in Swedish leather lux, I have noticed DeLeon sits like an expectant leopard. A deadly man, Detective Inspector Nick DeLeon, eyes aware, crystal in his left hand right never far from the open lapel of his pale linen evening-wear . He turns to me. "David and Ms. Ducks say 'hello' "
Dregs! DeLeons vile nickname for Daniella; my stomach churns, like the wasted life his son gives my precious daughter.Cold sweat on my lip; I say nothing. Then ... "where are they?"
DeLeon eyes me coldly. Say nothing. Then ..."Major DeLeon in somewhere in Bengal; says the locals are fierce.Daniella's stationed in Haldia, loaned out to DNI. She of-course can say nothing."
Daniella my starlite, my disowned beauty with suitors eager and wealthy and powerful abounding on either coast. A law school graduate who can say ... nothing, but follows a mercenary into ...Gotterdammerung!"And you know this ...?"
DeLeon chews on the possibilities. "People talk." Whispers abide a waterfall sound, as hush falls upon our parlour and noone will breath.
"You want to talk about THAT," pipes Andrew, breaking into a hopeless whorl-pool and pointing at the election map. "Trumps people tripped! Wisconsin just faded from blush to sky-blue. As I weight them, Trumps elector count dropped to 258."
Clatter of dice return and the call of field-bets. "Meat-packers gotta wear cheese on their heads shouldn't be electing Presidents."
"Between two Great Lakes ... I'll give them winter."
Eve. "Wisconsin Congress-critters?"
Andrews hand-wave brings a new screen. "Republicans equal or favored ... are likely to pick-up District 3." He returns the presidential screen. "But, we don't take wagers on Congressional races. Too local ... too provincial ... too risky for the cosmopolitan gambler with a big nickle."
Unspeakable simplicity ... "I'm sure our guests understand casino wager systems." I check my stainless Rolex: a confident dial reads 9:20:20 PM, Dec 21. "Andrew ... any word from Jerry?"
An iPhone appears ... fumbled ... Andrew hesitates ... "Jerry ... Ibn Ali ... He's close. Seems his driver got lane-slammed and lost somewhere off the Cross-Town."
"What's he doing there? He'll be in Mt. Pleasant before his Lincoln Town-car can turn 'round. "
"Something about a passenger."
"Passenger ... a girl. Jerry the ol' goat is bringing a girl, " exclaims a breathless Eve !
"Don't count on it, Sweet-pea," chuckles DeLeon. "Whatever Saul has in mind tonight, Jerry will scotch the obvious. Count on it! Passenger might be his astrologer or heart-surgeon."
"Or assassin," muses Hricko who ... as a sworn enemy knows Jerry better than most.
"Astrologer ... gal-pal ... bones ... mechanic ... such confusion so unlike Jerry," sings Eve standing and beckoning to Peachy. " Predictable him, always a smart dinner-jacket, staid as a dromedary. Won't you come with me, Peachy? With Wappo trying to swallow him, Jerry's bound to be a frightful fright and we can rescue his pigeon-du-jour when they enter ; find her the bar. We'll powder our nose till they arrive, or perhaps Sarah is at baccarat."
I cringe. "Unlikely. She feels unwell this evening and most likely retired until the storm ends."
"Poor dear ... my regards ... Jerrys' dove will due."
Peachy is biting her lip. "We just accost them at the front door? I've only met the man once," she cautions. "Something overweight in casual clothes I imagine."
"Jerry's a ... a diplomat of sorts. Diplomat or a spy," Eve whispers smiling.
Peachy eyes Hricko, who I believe knows too much. She say, "diplomatic gravitas, or polite to a fault; too polite for my taste."
Eve croons. "A woman is sooo much easier to ambush than a man."
"Benji says he's a schemer."
Eve demurs. "Perhaps ... scheme away the Saudi sybarite may, but maybe on such a godless night this fem spills Jerrys guts ... spills and trills after the 3rd Tanqueray." She giggles wisely. "No no not a chance Jerrys' chose a Burka-bound Saudi for companion." Eve winks at me. "Perhaps frisky as soft-17! Expect amusement, if not surprise from the Arab." Eve touches Peachys arm smartly. "His Government after-all employs him neither for his patience nor beliefs!"
Womanly smiles follow them from the parlour, across deep, silent wool rugs and into the maze of heart-pine cross-ways. A synthetic if not decadent venue ... women alone ... intent on mischief say the faces of DeLeon and Hricko. Men can worry. A lightening crack, and thunder search the casinos stout walls for entry. Lights flicker in the blackjack parlour. I summon Andrew. "See to the generator. We may soon be the only light in the city."
Indeed without electricity the City of G*d has gone dark, our perimeter cameras recording one column of light after another winking out. Harbor House remains a briskly lit solitary torch. Our 300 diners, gamblers and service have steadied hands and nerve with complementary Manhattans and a change from Reno to Las Vegas odds. Wisconsin remains blue.
"Lobsters to the grill," announces Jane in a comforting OxBridge clip only Mossad would train into its people.
We make amends to the last round of martinis. Ibn Ali Jerrahi arrives 15 minutes later, just as we leave the map parlour. His Lincoln waddles entry, water above the hubs and our doormen find him barefoot, bow-tie dangling, cuffs muddied ... delegating sharply to not one, but three retainers and squiring a spectral goddess onyx-black as the heart of Charleston.
"My physician, Davidson," the Arab fires coolly through the open doorway , "and by Allahs' 3rd beard do not remove her Beretta."
Jerrys City Station escort wails-off in streams of flashing blue.
The women gush ... all, but Sarah ... pealing-away both thuggish henchmen, swooning-away the Somalian spectre her scarlet scarf flying behind ... giggling now at a sisters secret past hat-check 'cross the marble foyer through a frizzed-glass obscure to the VIP lounge where old wine and impeccable Zimmer await their pleasure.
"This way, gentlemen." A casual visitor does not find the wood-frame elevator nesting rear of the baccarat parlour. Kerned for gamers of substance fine grain chestnut -- subtle in patina, wood recovered from a sunken Lake Michigan log-buss -- panels parlour wall. Silvered mirrors intersperse; a bamboo curtain floats teasing behind. Pass through ... rather a window, one of those mirrors and touching it slides open an elevator door. More chestnut panel inside, under bright LEDs and a brass rail on 3 sides. My fingers find a plate ; it supports code and pressed glows mint green. We slide upward to the muffled grind of rarely used gearing, Nicks wish for an equally secure City Station and Jerrys gentle swearing that such a confined if glorious space had better lead to cyclopian lobster.
If doom happens, I think Hrickos IOP bunker ... or mine lengthens the end by days. Otherwise the Casino provides what safety threatened men allow. End of a short bright corridor Jane and Jill guard the frizzed glass entry. "Oysters are served, gentlemen," tones Jill and heavily the panel slides aside.
"I seen rooms like this in Biloxi," Samuel cranks. "It's where they shave dice and vacuum coke off the Benjamins."
Half-shell oysters rest in silver ice. Amber light shows an oval room looking out upon swaying palms and skirling rain-bursts ... a storm-ravaged Battery. An empty oak hat-rack gropes for purpose. Closer a bare pale wood table more oval than round centers; service set-for-six ... and away from us a single man in tweed jacket and tan travelers togs sits nearest the windows. Smoke from his Pall Mall straight twists thinly 'round his right arm like a Greek code-stick.
"Here sleep lobsters," Jerry cackles and the glass slides shut behind us ... Samuel, Jerry, DeLeon, Hricko moving to place.
Hrickos eyes sweep the room, fixing on the tanman. "Chicken lobster , Jerry all shell no meat ... or sea-snake. Or eel; when he opens his mouth we can tell."
I feel for tanman, under so many eyes, but I do not feel sympathy. Sammy just stares making way to his name-tag nearest the door and so full viewing storms engagement beyond , a chewing living creature raking lifeless Charleston streets. His eyes squeeze shut ... then ..."where's Tony?"
"Gone to the farm; he's had enough."
"Too bad ... he knows everybody ...."
"Not spent time in Seattle, have you," the Detective menaces draining the last of his second martini and nodding his white Panama at the tanmans Cavu cap. "Low Country people protect their Haberdash like their wives. Seattle hats are penny-a-peak. It's subtle." The tanman says nothing.
"Champagne or Perrier?" Nicky takes the Perrier, speaks something under his breath to Samuel who insists nervously Jane fill his water-glass with Moett.
Dumbwaiter bell rings, slides open and the girls remove six salads, cut yellow and green and in the Low Country winter style sprinkled with radish and beets. Peach and key-lime relish surprises. "Better than oysters for what ails you," Sam snips. "Heh tanman you blew-off the first three shells like they grow on trees. Ever been in pluff-mud?"
"I think he knows a dime," scratches Hricko puddling his 2nd oyster with globs of Tabasco. I grimace -- wonder how a rail-thin body ... and a punctured one ... can arbitrage the heat. "Know what an FNH: PS90 costs in Port-a-Prince ?" Oysters slide away into both men. "Near $7900 delivered hull-to-hull. Box-of-four minimum. Two-dollars a pop for 140-grain FMJ. But, you knew that ... right ?" Hricko tears into a shredded green.
"Cuba patrols common trade-routes these days, Ben. Kommis tit-to-jaw with our Coast Guard -- left-over Holder people pimped the entree. Give them credit ... can't just slip a black-market schooner into a Carib docking without risk."
"Don't we all wish for unexpected allies," Jerry speculates over a fresh tumbler of Hakushu malt. "Perhaps tanman is such, and knows no better than I why we are here?" He grins toward me. "Well, we assume Saul does ... but, by the grip tanman has eaten raw oysters before and knows better than to drop-dead from them."
"No Harbor House oyster has ever killed a man;" chuckles 'round the table. Yet ... too fast, I think. Approaching awareness too fast. "None of us would waste an evening, Jerry though what algorithm can measure price ... what rule defines time casually spent with a friend?"
"Casual ... friend?"
"The Christian Bible tells us of the good Samaritan, an unknown Jew hated by Jews."
"A good Samaritan, Saul ... who might that be ?"
Jerry charms. "If states are people, then good deeds may be credited. I see the American Government has seen fit to eliminate Soleimani and al-Muhandis, both Shiite infidels ... Iranian fiends. A divine blessing even so late as today. But, will anyone care pray-Allah enlighten me why these same American leaders eliminated Irans sworn and able enemy Saddam Hussain?"
"Not the same American leaders ...?" And DeLeon passes-'round a plank of crusty sourdough, and a jade jar of persimmon butter.
"Jerry grins. "As passenger pigeon differs from turtle dove ..." And snatches a wedge. His salad and soup vanish beneath the crust.
Samual skeptic. "Or hawk from hummingbird !"
"Global politics still demand the local." Hricko spears a piece of she-crab ... swallow ... chased by streams of Wild Turkey. "Iraqi war most likely an Ambassadors child." He smiles at Jerry. "USA ambassador to Kuwait just before the Iraq war was the lover of Saddams oldest son. They met during Ascot, some say. She with a gynecologist in Frankfort, he an optometrist in London. Their weekend flights crossed in Cairo, where they fucked like mad puppies in a poppy-house run by the Chinese military attache. As matters arise she commented to party guests that Iraq might consider decadent Kuwait as a wandering Iraqi province fit for return. OOps! That's a big-bone for Saddam and his son to ignore and the father barked, invaded innocent as a Berber lamb, sure of American support. Now, Saddams son kept a racing camel in Cairo, whether because his Cyriac jockey made it home or because the camel favored blossoming Egyptian cotton remains a mystery. The love-struck USA ambassador grew as fond of it ... some say fonder ... as she was the son. Then a lovers spate intruded ... prompted perhaps by an Israeli tart. The ambassadors knees locked shut! Never the disciplined warrior his father managed the son had darling-do racing camel butchered for a STATE DINNER. Camel ribs, both roasted and boiled. She went Postal! The rest, as many assure us is history."
Samual tips back his pork-pie hat. "Ha ha I'll believe that Hricko when Peachy shaves her head bald as yours."
"Will a good story vanquish evil truth?"
Hricko sets aside an empty chowder bowl. "Bloody-handed MusIims ... is that why we're here Saul, to debate the virtue of butchering bloody-handed Muslims? Butchering, rather than pimping their migrant hordes?" If so, then what debate ... ?"
"Good enough, Ben for the incidental Koranish martyr. Yet not really the issue boiling waters." The Detective pauses, reaching I feel for presence in a time most comfortable to him. "Charleston streets steam with the broad culture conflict. Citadel and CoC no longer share professors. Eve says sides are being drawn, among the women in ways that even slavery didn't produce." Nicks last bit of salad vanishes. "Skin's long gone ... we're down to bare bone. Does American butchery stop with 15-th Century sand-shucking kfirs, or does it reach into our cradles and gut the innocent?"
"Lobster is served."
"They're alive !"
"Jumbo lobsters indeed, all of them alive and kicking ass ... or snapping claws as it may be," I pronounce. "Well all perhaps, but for the least dominant."
"Allah preserve us the shells are tinted blue! Is it tones of the mollusk royal purple"
"Exactly! Robins-egg thru heron. "
"Weakest gets boiled 1st," quips DeLeon, snatching a glance at our un-named guest. "Anyone favor yellow?"
"Dominant lobsters ... that's one claw above my job description," snarks Samuel. "But, I never seen a politician who didn't believe herself top-claw!"
Sniggers run table-round like a pool-room sharpsters run to the 9-ball. Casually ..." notice the 6 divided cages , and wedged fish-heads; lobsters only claw at the left-hand fish-head ... and never conflict directly. That's dominance gentlemen ... !" And with the word gentlemen our entrance door blackens, a jig sliding down revealing another large-screen display ... of the election map ... its manufacture CYBERDYNE LTD flashing away leaving a colorized USA peopled by 6 deep blue states each boundary swimming among pixels , titled with a lobster unique in its size, hue, squirming and claw-snapping seeming to reach out from the screen daring the approach of flesh and blood. Engraved over all ... water-marked ... floats a pewter knife-blade.
It catches the eye ... "I seen snakes with better attitude," moans Sammy burying his face in a pair of frosted olives.
"I believe that's a Wusthof 8" blade , which German steel our dear Jill is now twirling and what's this behind her," croons Hricko. "An oak butchers block and hibachi !" His laugh slides out ice-cold as a stropped edge. "Lobsters are in for a rough night, Saul, say nothing of your liquid crystal !"
"Sharp as burnt barley if the gentleman must know," chirps a lubricious Jill who no longer sports a black cocktail dress, but has buttoned-up in a stiff white chefs cassock and crisp French beret. She twirls the blade from one index finger to another. "One stab behind the eyes will do for a Carolina lobster, but ..." her eyebrows raise toward the screen .. "for the Monterrey Bay variety ..."
"Yes ... it's a mystery ... like the choice of lobster-blue states. Cali, NY and Illinois I understand ..." Hricko chews on a salt-crusted lip. "But, my dear dispatcher-of-lobster Florida, Washington and ..."
"I understand it perfectly," blurts Sammy gulping the last of three olives in a wash of BeefEaters. "Where the bar-babe serves vodka in her martini she deserves boiling in her shell!" BOOM a lightening flash cuts through the window and screen pixels flicker.
I hate foils and props, both marks of under-mensch! Marks like black-face and chorus-girls they signal a faux-clever sniveling Diaspora Jew. And yet ... suddenly the water-mark knife disappears to be replaced by an ivory dice-pair 1-1 and a chatting lobster complete with croupiers visor and rolled sleeves: screen-display snaps. "Player craps out ... new table roller. Place your bets ladies gentlemen, fields-a-winna ... 10-the-hard-way plaaace your bets ..."
My dinner table goes silent as a Russian winter birch. Jane frocked in white meringue that cannot taste as good as she towing a chrome trolley secrets from behind the screen. "She-Crab soup is served, and in this course claws are hot from the pot !"
"Damn we each have two ..." as the steaming China bowls are passed around. A small stained oak cask sits aside with lettering ... JACK BLACK 115 PROOF KENTUK BOURBON which in all justice holds old sherry of the same age.
"Damnation," the Detective mutters, forking a yellow-green mix from his salad. "This Geeche leaf can bite." Chews cautiously. "Some Yankee RHINO didn't get his hands on the peppers, did he?"
I demur. "Surely a wicked seed. Colder fall on Johns Isle puts an edge to the collards," and I return to my own plate. Yes ... quite an edge. Horticulture calls the hidden villain face-melter, though by another name -- Carolina Reaper -- its fame endures. Chefs instructions were to create a pepper-mash, then blow-over an air-puff onto each plate. Life, like salad may require such subtle introductions.
Nickys surprise recovers quickly. "Claws, Sammy ya know about them; grab one. These open easy as a pair of blueberry shorties. Crack with your fingers and suck them dry."
"Not the ones that write my checks," Samuel snaps at the Detective grinning into a dripping wooden spoon of broth.
"Nor the lobsters," trills Jill ... prompting her hibachi before the broad glass window and tempting it into flames ... "should claws be unbanded." Orange heat licks at the glass pairing outside sleet whipping at stray tendrils ... Jill persists ..." as I'm told it's the same in politics." She snatches without ceremony each lobster from its cage , caching them by strump-pins upon the oak butchers block and laying her cold steel blade among them.
Jerry chuckles meanly, adjusts his silk turban and accepting a Turkish fag from Hricko ... "The screen objects to a meat-land bias."
Immediately the screen-display changes, panning into New York where the lobster-icon bears a striking resemblance to that hoisted high by dear Jill. "Call the dominant lobster New York," she croons lifting its 5 crustaceous pounds high above her head. All eyes follow ...
"lil Mikey," The Detective shoots hip-side. "After Democrats United campaign bus drove off the only cliff in Kansas and flame-burst killing both Biden and Sanders."
"Arkansas mafia!" DeLeons thin southron face narrows, leans back from his shecrab lighting a Camel Straight and blowing a thin-grey stream of irritation toward the window. "Rotted brake-lines says the NYT, and a wetback driver hi-on-weed." He chews on that. "Cut rubber the local badges claim ... another Jodie Foster!" Jill appends with a silver ashtray and DeLeon stubs out the fag. "But, only pink-Bernie died with a bong in his mouth."
Hricko gleefully "... on their way to a Lincoln/Douglas style debate in Wichita." The white crease on his chin widens. "Can a pig debate a vulture?" Eyes narrow into weathered skin. "Bloomberg became a DemoRat great-white-hope. Manhattan stud, Jew-with-a-view, hard-shell-huckster ... then he gave that field-side interview to a reporter from Kansas Gamrs Limited suggesting 71/2 refers to a dildo size, Fox was an animal and implying his rat-pack of 10 machine-gun armed IDF-trained security thugs was more needed than roasted free-range pheasant and corn-cobs. Guess he identified Kansas gamers as nerdlings not upland bird hunters. Then the law of unintended consequences gutted him! Gourmands incensed world-wide shipped thousands of fresh-pheasants to NY state tax collectors who, all being piscatarians became en-mass violently ill. Revenues tumbled ... petted Guat illegals starved ... the Gub'mnt union was not pleased and lil-Mikey became cooked-goose overnight. Who remains, but the unspoken one ... Billary haha!"
"She does now what any corporate shyster does. Why should she do more?"
"Well yes there's that. Shame about SLOWJOES brake-line ... what about the Nancy-boi mayor?"
Hricko again. "Got arrested on a domestic violence charge ... his husband complained about crotch-slot color and --- for the trouble --- got a steaming-iron face-plant from Hizhonor. Reconstructive surgery is said to take years!"
SLAM goes the Manhattan lobster onto the butchers block, snicker-snak slices the German steel blade, flip sends spurting entrails into a waste-pot and toss tumbles halved lobster tails among hibachi flames where the now-soul-less crustacean twitches and spits and sizzles. Faithfully wide-screen pixels mimic the blue-toned torment.
"Pocahontas was caught weaving wool Indian blankets with Mexican polyester ." SNAK ... FLIP ... TOSS. "Entitled illegals pimping strumpet doesn't know her betters ... her supporters godless, violent, man-hating brainwashed morons as a wise observer notes, while yet another Kennedy is running ..." pixels whorl.
"Poltroon Betos 37-cal Colt can't quick-draw --- though his cartel fence-jumpers revel --- and he won't eat Pace with his burritos" ... SNAK ...
"Lakers are moving to China where NIKE comps hoes and koke. Hollywood Babylon dreamers lush, but Kamala misses Slick Willie ... once you redact, you never ..."
"Last real dick in town was Scoop Jackson ... in-the-day. Times change. Gates wife spanked him for hiring American coders." Skin on DeLeon forehead tightens. "Ya know Seattle Muzzis and fags have a love/hate relation. Seattle fags love Muzzi dick ... and MuJad despise atheist, libertoon fags. Blood between them will go bad -- count on it."
"Ya spent time there, Detective?"
Jerry awakes. Snatches a bit of sauce into the lobster-belly. "Old ... very old our Saudi culture, whose citizens indeed free themselves by quiet service to our Prince ... sub-serving to Allahs rule. But, for America consider the words of your own historian: the lowest of people are rude and uncivil because they daily contact the enlightened. The sight of their own hard lot and of their weakness and their own inferiority excites in their hearts sentiments of anger and fear. They become at once both insolent and servile toward their betters. Wisdom compares this insight to your Niggar bitch Mayor Lightfoot who trumpets all ... she lubricates child-molesting criminals ... foreigners. They vote for her ... until some outraged parent drills her ... as Ben would say drills her a 3rd eye!"
Hricko smiles at Jerry and snarls. "Land-O-Lincoln rotted top-2-bottom. Skinny Guat hoes b-creamin' and fat Ratchets screamin' ... battling for commerce sites inside McDonalds. Make feed-lots look like fern-bars. Chicago Exchange pork-belly market's in tatters since Chi.com housewives decided they liked sheared-dog better than pulled-pork."
"So it's not just us ..."
"Oh, very much so just us ... pass the paprika will ya ...?"
Republics so depend for stability on the virtue of their citizens. Stalin knew that, and tried substituting his own for the vagrant Russian soul. I had been standing beside the display, pointing out obscure lobster variants as chances boiled away for one Democrat candidate after another. But, all six grilled lobsters had hit the china-plate and mine steamed flavor with the best. Something about rosemary butter and the infinitely small dose of Carolina reaper infused into each shell. Or perhaps the Hawaiian surfer-gal entertains with scents of coconut and salted lime. Growing wiser, our world fills with mystery. No matter ... She-crabs cool sadly as tails-and-claws one-after-another are torn apart. Somewhere in the 2nd half-shell I manage. "About those corporate lawyers ..."
Obscure ... silent ... unmoving ... the man-in-brown brushes a last bit of sauced-lobster from his plate and speaks. "Militia will not spare them, no more than the Trotsky-slut progs." There's Spanish lilt to his voice, but perhaps he will say pollution is inevitable.
Spoken so softly, the rant becomes every-mans 5-th column. "Smoke a Red?" Sams match lights it. "so lawyers and big-biz-bites ... how amazed am I?"
"Amazed that Westinghouse, Packard and Woz don't get born again? Matters not. Escape rejected for the cosmopolitan globalist mercantile tribe ... escape or mercy ... "
Bemused, perplexed, forever watchful Ibn Ali poaches the brown-mans anger. "My tribe of Saudis traded the Silk Road while the Sphinx was still Pharaohs wet-dream. Had the Venetians not interfered we would have owned the Mongols." A dark, run-soaked Habanos appears from an inside pocket and he sniffs it willfully. " So my brown-tinted friend what post-modern Silk road do you block ... what tribes do you take down?"
Brown-man grins sadly. "I'd be lucky to take down a hot-dog stand. But, the nationalist militia doubles-in-size each month, matching globalist outrage. You need a list of bad-guys ? Disney, Apple, Boeing, Cargill, Microsoft, Koch, Alphabet, BofA, Amazon, Facebook , Twitter ... to mention a few of the worst. All went-to-bed humping madly with power-sucking emotocents of American Academ, femi-nazis and metro-politicos. Exported IP to China dime-to-the-dollar. Screwed the able American worker ... designer, builder, tester ... to butt-fuck Asian wage-slaves and Incel clerks." Brown-man draws heavy on the Pall Mall. "Too late for Henry Fords ghost, or power to excuse liberty; too late isolating yeomanry contagion west of the Great Basin."
Samuel snarks. "Yeomanry, huh ... left-coast . Like Robin Hood? Are they dominant? What have they done, open shooting galleries at Disneyland ? And how would you know one-way or another?"
"Young men approaching battle for the 1st time like to talk ... sing the warriors paeon. I listen to these left-coast yeomanry newly awakened from Reganesque slumber by the SNEEZE LAWS. Intolerable to a free man ... ACHU ... Absolute Control of Human Utterance regimes pimping thought-crimes , wett-back sanctuary and affirmative-action. Anathema to a patriot, but custard-pie to biz-nazi monopolists and ad-pumpers ... for vote-herding tyrants."
"Okey mebby ... but, 12 patriots and a rabbi can't shout too loud against an empire."
Brown-man chews on that, pinches a bit of lobster-claw, hunches a shoulder like it had taken-a-bullet and hurts now. "Speak with a whisper, Sam before the whip-crack. White nationalist camps scatter throughout the Wasatch, Sierra and Wenatchee ranges. Leaderless resistance equally deniable under casual inspection though armed, celled and chandlered. Along the Appalachian Trail civil war re-enacters have marshaled officers, raided supply trains and traded muskets for M-16s. Fifty well-maintained posts ... perhaps sixty supported by a sea of local Scot partisans. Participation of colored and Semite fire-teams at these camps may shock you, but choice of a white ansatz appeals broadly to citizens valuing Constitutional government, uniform justice and fair-play ... appeals to groups whose cultural weakness prevents their own solution." Brown-man pauses ... "weakness, or failure to cull their own herd matters not to a man facing each day. "
Brown-mans point flicks to the election map. Colors flee the screen, replaced by topology of plain, lake, river and mountain, from sea to shining sea. A growing scatter of yellow points appears, most aligned with mountain ranges; each point coded by a rattlesnake image; winking stars populate many valleys, as if heralding ambush or battle-zones. Again the pointer flickers, over two bright red stars. "LaRaza and MuJad compounds were destroyed here & here ... arms caches discovered and sympathetic local politicians captured and executed." He pauses ..."patriots died in the firefights ..."
Silence . "HLS & NSA would pay plenty for that map." DeLeon ponders, biting casual into his Camel. "Bobby Lee considered, but did not choose this solution."
How well the map displays a random dispersal of forces and actions ... if indeed avoiding Federal centers of power it did not plan them. "How current ...?" Brown-man says nothing. The screen-wide displays the paper-mark DONT TREAD ON ME. Tones of viperous rattle fill the room. "An unexpected intrusion, gentlemen," I croon, "but these too are votes! Count the rattles, count the votes by 100!"
"You!" Samuel speechless, gulping his gin ... like a madman enlightened staring thru me. Then ..."does it always take a Jew?"
"Yes ... never again." I turn to the Brown-man. "What can we expect?"
A sinuous curl of grey streams from the Red. "Snarl of the war-dog ... rivers of blood!"
"Christ-on-the-Cross you're ..."
Days pass. Sun low in the west, boiling heat into chilling shadows. Sunset ... that purple globe dominating the western horizon ... looking very much the unblinking cyclopian devil from beach-side or Intercoastal marsh. More skeets & gaters this-side ... I laugh, but Makos will bite-your-ass either way. And that Caroline sun will roast your eyes ... masts of a Bulls Island shrimper cross-it moving north. I wave; steam-horns return two blasts. High tide washes below my feet and cool evening onshore ruffles my shirt collar; the Intercoastal shell-line gleams white. Can't harvest a damned oyster while the water's this high, but the low muck becomes hidden. I stand hidden, stray wind cutting through my jacket, trapped outside on an empty dock, beyond the rational. No pit-boss to detect the wired grifter, no croupier to polish my wisdom. Raw oysters are so damned funny ... so Isle-of-Palms ... and this day will pass. A siren wails hopeless far to the south ... near Sullys ... a long walk for a stale beer , I ponder ... my sandals scruff redwood planks near the docks end ... I'm watching Redfish slash among Pogies ... Bens 51' is in for a new yard, but the helpless Bayliner twists lines and grinds at timbers.
Turning to shuffle. There ... marsh-line meeting the anchor-posts of concrete ... a freshly discarded rattlesnake skin ... one of Bens pair ... Detectives grating voice ... "Ben's yapping again ... making sense this time like a cash register." Yanks my face up.
"Jerry and Samuel ?"
"Sammy's drunk ... Jerrys Gulfstream flew-off to Saudi-ville yesterday evening. Gulfstream Ultra ... that's a long pair of legs even for a Saudi Prince, but even if America had them, where will we run? Capish? Anyrate, something about malaria. You know about that?"
I shrug. "Best for them ... " I pause at the unknown. "Something of a gamble for us coming here, a wager in the time of plague. " DeLeon grunts unsatisfied ... palmettos whisper ... a door slides opens behind us, groaning, heavy with layers of quartz and plexi. Peachys jeans are knee-ripped and plaid Pennsylvania hunters shirt frayed at the collar. She calls my name.
PLEASE GARGLE UPON ENTRY MR DAVIDSON. FIRST THE YELLOW, THEN THE ORANGE. It's cold in the bedroom ... infirmary, now. California king pushed to a corner trapping oaky mirrors and rocking-chair. Every wall ... vidscreens cover half ... the election maps cover half of those, election map , block of the patients vitals and low-down a little prize pic-in-pic and self-named BATTLEMASTER.
Midroom, a hospital bed and its wiring entombs Hricko. Nick and The Brown Man sit quiet , beside Peachy and me. Only Ben has gone down to Wuhan.
"Clever bastard , our POTUS, the bankruptcy expert ..." HACK HACK HACK and coughing runs-on forever like the IVs dripping gore into Hrickos veins. Above his head hangs a ventilator mouthpiece; he gulps a draught, then turns spitting blood into a stainless bowl. "Bankrupt the damned country pimping every citizen $5000 dollars. Ain't he a marvel!" Humping to raise shoulders. "Damned Democrats would have only given three ... WRACHK ..." he wretches. Head falls back onto the white pillow. Face turns toward me. "But, he did the dirty fast, Saul, grift Trump a point for speed. Pelosi & OAC would have taken weeks to write every faggot, Guat-13, niggar and wettback wet-dream into a bill ... but not THEDONALD. He spent money out-from-under illegals ... left them shit-jerking for koke & mercy and gave the bankrupting payments to USA citizens HACKHACK ..HACK.. " DeLeon jabs a Pall Mall into his mouth and Ben sucks the ash glowing red before it's snatched away. "Nothing left for DemoRat traitors to give-away! One-point-five trillion ... about what the Feds gave banking after the mortgage crash ... bankrupt the US Treasury not that biz-Nazis care , but it ought to slick Joe citizen and American producers thru this Wuhan crap." HACK ...HACK ...
"The fag doesn't help," barks DeLeon, leaning back in his lounger.
Hrickos arm shakes NO ... reaches out weakly for Peachys hand; she takes his knuckles leaning across the bedsheet and kisses them. "What's my temp, sweetheart ...?"
"Jenny says it's 103-F, and if you don't stop smoking she'll trickle nitrous-oxide into your Chloroquine cocktail. What's that other juju ... Rifampin? Jenny thinks it's got a spare methyl-group and is prepared to ..."
"I'm a dead man ..."
"NO! Funeral postponed while my ass is still alive."
"Really, I can't die? It seemed so easy ... show the map, Jenny!"
"AS YOU WISH MASTER"
Pixels dance main panel of the wall-screen. Random, eh ... then dissolving, reforming into a bubbled layer display. Top-layer Wuhan virus infections, next rates-of-increase and at-the-base mortality. Together patterns don't shout, but scream.
Turning with pain ... "See dear lovely I'm right there ..." Peachy jams a chalk-colored squirt-tube between his lips and squeezes ... Hricko explodes into silence.
Brown Man chews at a Camel Straight. "No surprise the La and Seattle bubbles ; globalist cesspools locally pimped by the glitter-people. Yes ... we understand ... but streaming outflow from NYC toward the Mississippi shocks. The bubble-strands might mark airports ... or universities ... Do NYC Trotsky-sluts rule? Manhattan-ites usually see no farther than the end of their martini shaker."
"Or gold-plate dildoe! Who sent the seeds," slacks DeLeon. "Who packaged them who manages them ... chain-of-command ... ?"
"Gotta love Chi.com academics; they litter the Ivy League and IL wannaBeez. But, we have our own vipers nests at UCLA, Stanford and Berkley." Brown Man walks to the window overlooking the dock and peers intently toward a sun-fringed horizon fading darkly into a false red sun-rise. Trapped ... his wharfmans face tightens ... no escape ... while he imagines something ... how can he possibly imagine the whore Tepy pulling-in the tide? Does he imagine or does he measure? Then ... "Left-Coast yeoman started small, in bergs & hamlets rough-hewn where nationalist support broods, where god and guns and guts steady the uncertain hand. Given such a seed, yeomanry then let rising tide carry them deeper into cosmopolitan metro."
"Follow the line backwards eh ... roll-them-up from Gainesville, Memphis and Cleveland to ..."
"Not talking about Wuhan virus, are we Detective ?"
"Bugs, parasites ... virus ... penny-a-whack!" DeLeon turns to the screen. "Jenny ... Jenny is it, a machine?"
"A COLD MAN MIGHT BELIEVE SO".
"Heh heh ... and sensitive also." The Detective ponders, then ..."Jenny, will ya over-write current disposition of Federal troops on the Wuhan infection map?"
"Whose print is DeLeon trying to lift", I mumble. A dripping blue-white icicle flashes cross-screen. Smatter of blue-stars follow, spiraling out from Carolina, Texas, California ... damnme from air-force bases ... all SAC mebby ... paratroops ... tanks ... None of the blue-stars superimpose on red circles-of-infection. "Looks like the military got their people out of harms way." Sweat traces my forehead. "Looks like none of the military units can move quickly to protect prog-mayors in big cities."
DeLeon counting fingers ... "Not New York, Not La., not St Louis, not Seattle , not Boston ..."
I feel dice slipping between my fingers. "IDF will never allow Spartacists, the NYC Trotsky pimps no matter how hell-bent, no matter how they letch upon power, never permit them to be herded -- branded -- butchered ... traitorous sons-a-bitches they be. Blood simple ... they'll invade first."
"Invade the USA? New Israel ?"
"We are talking New York City ... and whatever remains after the tide rises."
"Ha ha! Bread rises without a tide, but moonstruck water needs no yeast!" Hricko gulps at his ventilator. "Where the Hudson flows the Mohawk goes. Jenny, where fuck-all HACKHACK does the tide start to rise? Eh , riddle me that ... the beginning ... the alpha-point ... the tipping value when noise cascades into chaos ."
"CONUNDRUM, MASTER. AN ILL-FORMED QUESTION LEADS TO A CORRUPT ANSWER. A QUESTION SUCH-AS WHERE DOES THE BIG BANG BEGIN ... OR WHEN ..."
"Everywhere, you silicon slicker." Images of a long-tressed sys-mistress shimmer across the screen. Hricko snarls, "send the damned INETD daemon, I will after your smarmy GTK! Take me out to the pier, will ya Peachy? Give me a last free breath. Show our left-coast Brown-man a Carolina sunset frost a virgins tit !"
"Bed has a motor?"
"Motor fuck-all. Take my arm, Nicky ... Saul, here, the other. Shoulder up! March me west , catch my stumble gawd-sakes parts of Tepy still buried just over the piers end." Hricko chokes down a sob. "She stayed there, didn't she Nicky .... ?"
"Parts of her, yes," DeLeon snaps ... rolling his legs from the lounge and approaching the bed. "The parts under plank not ... not sleeping ..."
Hricko wretches into the stainless bowl. "Let me walk those planks , a hellish place to watch the devil die. Please, here, lift my arms ..."
"Watch the cable, damn-you. T3s crush like glass."
"Feather-bones, but lead ass."
"See there, the door-sill where new stainless got welded ..."
"Oak-stump for his brain."
Thump thump ... "Here, near the post ... I can stand ... damn-meee ..."
"Legs of mush."
"That's better. Wool shirt feels good against dallying wind. Let me sit ... damn wet legs. I dare the damned blue pointer nibble my toes." Waves slick from his splash in the viscous brine.
"The sun, gentlemen is setting." Sunset, I believe has never accorded human folly. What fails will fail all night like delusions of a nation bright yet unfit for power. What has succeeded ... dice rolled in chestnut dark among the watering blood.
"See the last bright edge HACKHACK shimmer ... gone to ice that edge. Beyond us, yet we prize the hunt. I hunted ... once I killed a fox lil' bastard was trailing two young buck. Not a chance golden-red foxy could claim either , but ... what will we claim, Nicky when we hunt down the progs? What are they chasing that so enrages us? "
" Mary of Guise rode under a banner of two stags addressing the army of poxy Liz...."
"Virtue my friends. So the banner sets over PCG, Nepenthe ... Ventana ..."
"Without the chills, Brown Man ... without the chilling human graveyard men imagine over the Inter-Coastal, or the Hudson. It flies doom as it dies 'cross the Hudson into the heartland."
" damned we are ... "
"Ben ... Ben."