Saul Davidson narrates:: THE MAP

One of the parlours thickly floored in the blue wool of Saudi lamb  has trapped me. "How many colors Andrew?"

" Why ...  six colors  Mr. Davidson. Three red three blue."

"And how many needed to ensure no adjacent colors?"

"Painted edge to edge you mean?" Andrews Ivy League grin broadens. "That's topology Mr Davidson. I Aced the course junior year." He points up to the  silently leering wide-screen. "The dual graph has  chromatic number  4."  Then smugly. "Easy to paint with 5  hues, but a clever colorist can  without adjacents do with 4."

"Adjacents ... ?" I murmur,  shaking my head.

"Ignoring vertex!"

Distracted ...  I cannot ignore distraction by a subtle patter. It rings through  chrome legs of my lounger,  a  patter ringing from the outside, as I know vibrations of my own casino ferro-cement floors as well as the shuddering  pleasured flesh of my lover. I rise silent, pad to a subtle doorway masked by tapestry --- enter a code and slip into a narrow walkway.  Broadly colored murmurs amplify.  Fingertips trace ceramic edges till they touch glass. My face presses to the plexi-quartz window, a rain-swept view  that sweeps past Customs House and   Captains Marina palms,  and along the pale brick-crusted mansions of  lower Battery. No person walks that street ... no lost soul no assassin ...  and  scattered chauffeured livery make passage in spews of brine.  Yellow light seeps weakly atop swaying lamp-posts.  I see a vengeance-minded world. Billows of sleet chew at the quartz, at my face like an envious, hungry swamp-cat attacking a fawn; a fawn frozen to its nest in fear. Cold sweat rings my collar.  How the world will pull you out, ever out into chaos ... I push back from the horror,  feeling the safety of close tiled walls , retracing  my path ... cursing mindless intrusions of a careless world ... thinking  tis a bad night for guests ...

Composed. Dry hands quiet I slip into  The Map parlour.  "Have any guests arrived," Andrew?

Surprised, he turns quickly. "Noone, but Hricko, Mr Davidson.  Jerry did cell-phone, stuck at the Wappo Cut Bridge. His limo will be late."

Jerry!  Indeed! My lips do not tighten ...  How  easily Andrew may dismiss his betters ... Ibn Ali Jerrahi ...   Very well.  The drive from Wioka  Isle always tires.  "And the salon?"

"The  circular birch table is set-for-six; our best silver and crystal for the ... ah ..."

I smile. How much Andrew wants to know ... I  ask, "and the lobster?"

"A dozen  just delivered  from Shem Creek, iced below crab-pots.  Deckmen had a miserable time getting their Butter-Boat across the harbor."

"You have not assigned waiters, Herr Davidson. I can  ..."

... turning ... "No need Schvindler. Find two young women waiting in my office.  New people. Introduce them to Pierre  and the kitchen staff.  The women are well trained in food preparation and have my instructions for the night. Ensure  the staff follows them.  As for  arriving  guests ...  see I'm  promptly informed."

"Promptly," clips Schvindler yet  waits , an expectant set to his jaw.

I will not hurry a confused servant.  Now, Jerry late, but  not DeLeon and Levine, I think  ... they are city people.  I look about. Even on such a night, the creame of Charleston society plays at my tables; more than 100 already, plus those still  eating in the restaurant.  I have my lounger again and leather feels like a fawn-skin glove. Shouts from a craps table break between us;  our alcove glows in silent pastel.  If I look beyond,  across  the spread of poker and blackjack  tables,  over the swirl of gowns and tuxes the dice-pits melt simpering into red Moorish soft wall sculpture.  I frown ... they ought to do better than 50 db. Distracted. "Our rugs were fluffed only last month ..."

Schvindler  clips . " Ein neues Dienstleistungsunternehmen, Herr Davidson voller Schwarzer."

Andrew  chews on a lip and carps. "Some retired Navy have re-enlisted. With the new Boeing hires, and militia recruitment gone public you can't find an unemployed  walking white man in Charleston."

Indeed. I will speak to Sarah  ...  straighten my black bow-tie as the Samsung monitor draws me back. Solid clumps of red and blue states dominate the  election map.  Admitting Pennsylvania and Florida and Wisconsin blush or pale daily. Not only atoms move ... yet  predictions of-course ... only predictions ... which  singularly may change color!  On  such a map may German, French and Italian Boeing engineers lose fortunes;  may and can and will. The casino has subscribed $45-million in bets on the 2020 elections, elections rushing toward us fast as the  New York and California legislature pass  new  protected-class restraints on investment and speech ... the  ACHU or so-called sneeze  laws.  As a gambler sees it ... and I have gambled not one nickle since fifth grade the more random outcomes are violated the more  dealers profit.  Our EASY_RAKE software predicts tripling $45-million before the election.   Cold sweaty thoughts wash over me. Wishing ... imagining ... betting ...  better, much better than the threatened civil war I muse ...

Schvindler sneers catlike.  " Dunkle gedanken herr Davidson? Besser fürs Schlafzimmer aufgehoben."

A bright  flash ... MOMAs MONEY and  THE GREEKS smothered in acrid orange fire as State Street Geeche rioters  revel ... the Detective kicking though flames, shooting ... my Astra-900 pissing hate in another Jerusalem 1948 spring. "No Schvindler, no ... never ... nothing of the sort."

"Mr Davidson believes we got moneys-worth for the election betting venue ...  color display included with all its subtle hues," chirps smiling Andrew.

My chosen apprentice and confidant;  did he mean to smile? What ravages the three tribes would bring to Charleston in a civil war. Militia consider the Low Country their  southron birthright; they will shred home-landing Bantu;  butcher-out  Antifa incells without quarter.  Geeche nurse their wounds ... Grendels arising ... will try slicing off the fairwind islands for Federal masters; cloying arrogant bastards them.  Over-reaching all  the  military  generals -- choosing a rough neutrality I believe --  some constitutionalists, all Centurions they will defend-in-blood  their port;  steel hulls, wooden recruits and  our newly installed Boeing  F-35  production.

Andrew finds me unmoved, and  pauses, reflecting on ignorance. "At least the California and New York colors never change."

OH, but they might I ponder. Already three sanctuary-city mayors have been cut-down by militia gunmen,   A transition among Militia  from angry amateurs to hard men. And  finding a bead of sweat on my chin turn to the one salvation, the one piece of certain sanity ... the casino  and Andrew.  He lounges in Swedish leather. I dig at his certainty. "If 5  colors make the  mappers' task easy,  presumably  6 colors produce a trivial task  ... doable by random draw?" Andrew frowns while I push on. "Why do you think 19  Trump states and 15  states Hillary-safe are paired or tripled with same colors side-by-side ?"

Andrew shrugs casually. "It's an East-coast / West-coast / Fly-over  thing."

"Oh." A chuckle slips out. "So you believe  flow-of-history not people determines power? We are both Ha'vard Phi Betas ... I did not take you for a Marxist!"

Andrew blushes furiously. "I meant that ..."

I wave  him away, stretch out of my lounger, smooth a wrinkle in my starched shirt  and approach the glass wall, pacing its length and noting the near invisible control-pix at the top of each state.  So like the ancient Mechanical-Turk! So like Andrew and Sarah. So appealing to the human desire for mystic salvation.  "What probability Andrew that  random  choice produces such a map with 48 elements and 6 colors?"

Andrew ... a quick study ... "microscopic Mr Davidson. But, for a few elements it's 100%!"

"When does it break even?"

Smugly. "At six elements.  An approximate formula is  P = N*(2/3)^N ."

"An admirable formula, Andrew." I pause before the screen. "Trump  with 279 electors imply the latest polls." My voice sharpens. "If you aren't frightened, why not !"

"My money is on Hillary. Trump can't win both Michigan and Pennsylvania. Too many voting illegals in both those states."

Perhaps ...  if they  still breath on election day. Blue wool rugs reflect  the  9' screen and election map. It lechers  colored light  from a brick wall  into  our  velvet enclave, polluted by vodka martinis, smothered in local silence and frequented by card-counters, policemen and fem-d-jour. Forget the  chat-able, well-dressed election book-maker sitting at the corner table;  within you might forget the casino about you.  Forget the odds and bet a fantasy.  von-Claus has just replaced  Schvindler  at the desk.   Again, shouts from a crap table and a croupiers squeal.

"Arbeit macht mich frei mein Fuh ... Herr Davidson." He coughs without blush. Begs pardon of a  full-breasted gown and  suit that brush by,  corsagued and flushed young by early sex I surmise, endorphin misted  and drawn-in-afterlust to a roulet wheel. Schvindler never just a dealer, never just a clerk ...  never a deaf and dumb German  his eyes fall to the far table  and voice draws the straight line.

"Herr Hricko  does well ..."

Hricko ...  the name brings bile to my throat.  His Slovine name hides pure Junker blood   --  blood blue, cold, certain and  without mercy; a Militia sympathizer if not agent. A Jesuit tempered anti-Semite. Far away a  pitch of  dice  tumble  the velvet run and rattle high against a curved maple corner. My idea decades unchanged for  waxed-wood sides to the crap tables.  Emotionless Croupier shouts " 8  the hard way ... a winna ..." His stick gathers chips and the ivory cubes  beside  a leathered Isle-of-Palms claw;  I know without seeing those bright eyes worn glim, guiding that claw from the lubricious bare knee of a peach blonde shiksa not old enough to be his daughter to the raft of black chips.  He cups them ... mounds them up ... lets them ride.   My  eyes  squint,  stomach clenches at the thought of  Hricko  beating my odds ...  immaculate casino hands cuff  the tables house-rake into a  velvet slot.

"Field player doubling-down," croons the croupier.  "Place your bets ladies and gentlemen  ... plaaace your  bets."

A  steel-blond face and square chin rarely dissemble.  I  choose a holiday face.  "Work indeed Schvindler. Ho ho  you're in fine fettle this evening.  A dozen smiles light  your face passing under our   chrome ornaments ...  chin and cheek and nose each smile a border, a nation.  And  that tuxedo ... tailor Rosenstein has done well by a hefty figure.  How white silk catches green and red lights; Father Christmas could do no better."

"Danka Herr Davidson.  Was die Weihnachtsgötter spielen, geben sie als Geschenke zurück."

I scan the marbled passages between parlours, passages narrow enough that willing  bodies must touch, yet wide enough for security ... "And your compatriots Klass and Zimmer, they patrol  in style without  detection  or the least embarrassment of appearance."

Schvindler smiles.   "Unter der Seide schmiegt sich Glock wie ein Baby an die Brust."

I nod. Indeed, when we replaced Browning-38s with Glock-40 autolites both comfort and function leapt-ahead.  Not every German design is a thought-crime. Yet ... I quip ..."English, Schvindler ... please speak English on the floor!"

"Jawohl, mine Herrn," clips Schvindler and  checking his watch  paces  to the security door  vanishing  into the bar .  The cigarette girl he bangs every Monday night will be waiting. I smile.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht ... I think of that Christian song swelling the hearts of peasants, faithful and poor and murderous. Such silence ... It startles me! "Your man hasn't spoken English since Kristallnacht !"

"Not every Nazi was there ... "

"Nor every Jew."

A bullet-shot voice and  spare-framed body move near,  Swiss Army  leather-strapped Tyrwhett cuff aligned to the screen.  Skeptical weathered-thin face.  A singular man. Peachy rides shotgun, mink capped floating a sea foam green gown. It swells  beneath flawless emerald earings  and peach-blonde hair  styled a  grasshopper-pinned Grecian curl.  Her right hand  spreads on Hrickos hip fingers splayed like sapphire-tipped shrapnel.  That hand directed 3 lead slugs into Hrickos back, or some say only encouraged ... I bow, and kiss her other hand.  "Eine schöne Frau ist die Freude des Mannes" Peachy demures beneath Hrickos grin.  How well my casino matches this couple.

As a shy man might, Hricko kisses her ear and turning approaches the  map. He  snarls. "Funny that ... the Militia states in red. Spreads like blood!  Ever notice how pale-BLUE states blush whenever local Militia cut down a DemoRat traitor?"

"Only for a week." Andrew defensively, snatching at truth. "And only in Nevada and Minnisota where badlands hide the perps." For all his Ivy-Leauge simp a good soldier, Andrew. He would die quickly in battle.

Hricko sneers dismissing the soft edge. "They're coming for the Trotsky-sluts Saul .  While migrant beaners and  sand-Niggars  pour in like turds in a broken sewer-pipe  two more  440-K power-towers  were blown at the Oregon border, or so claims that HRI guy  Scranton.   La. gonna have a cold Christmas.  Doesn't stop! Bernero and  DeRemer  were taken last month by 270-cal chest-mashers --- a hunters bullet -- but Monday,  simpering Schaff  blown-away by a  223-cal head-shot.  Capisce ?  The transition at 400 yards from   3" to 0.5" CEP   Militia loads  sparked  your New York JDL into building  expanded  Jewish ghetto perimeters." Hricko chuckles meanly.  "Bearded Haredi patrol  Manhatten with Belgin FLNs;  IDF guided some mouse whispers in my ear.  Your cup-of-tea, Saul ... you want a perimeter?"

Poisonous words. "Why celebrate, Hricko, you a rational man, an investor who measures each loss ? Civil war is the worst of all crimes against caution and law."

"Worst?" Hricko taps-out a Camel Straight, Zippos the tip red and blows a long thin stream of grey smoke toward the screen.   "Kumbiya baby," the sneer returns.  "Worst perhaps, until the bad-boys come for us, both worldly men." He looks for my reaction ... and finds none.  Then ... "We both live water-side on IOP,  I on the marsh, you on the ocean two blocks  from my hive;   you sail a Jenneau, I a Classen; you shoot the same  nickle-plate Dan Wesson  I do;  same plexi-quartz house windows;  your daughter is married to the Detectives ... ."

"Enough !" So  viperous Hricko appears.

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."

"Peachy ...?"

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 Spanish leather boots 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 thetarbaby 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."