Tuesday, April 25, 2017

more than the tiger prowling

Journal Entry - Monday April 24, 1933

After I finished that job in Boston, I caught a flamenco show then hauled it back to New Palermo. When I got back to the room my tux was laid out for me with a note from Simone on it.

“I’m off to the New Seraph Club. Go to the Tea Party tonight. Watch for shattered cups.”

The holster was laid out on the tux.

It was the weekly Monday Night shindig. Rum and Coca-Cola. Hidey Hidey Ho. All was Charleston until that Malachi guy showed up. Who the hell brings a book to a tea dance? What ever he was mumbling from it made the hairs on my neck raise up like they were getting mugged in an alley on Walpurgisnacht.

It’s gotta be that same damn book those crazy rich bastards are killing each other to get. I was standing there, trying to figure out if it was crazier to jump him or pull my barrel in front of everybody when the local bankers started getting into it.

Everybody felt it. I think I was the only one who knew what it was, but the rest of them - they reacted to it as sadness. Fear. Anger. Jealousy. Suddenly the rage everyone keeps in blew up stronger than all the tunes and booze and scandalous dances can keep a lid on.

The local wiseguys who got the most covered up got warped the hardest. This just threw gasoline on the sparks. Who’s eyeing up whose dame. Who needs a hospital bed. Who needs some new holes in their necktie.

Soon somebody swats a teacup out of somebody else’s hand. The whole damn crowd and the whole damn orchestra froze as it spun up and out and landed with the faintest crash on the ballroom tiles.

And then of course they all rushed for the exit, clutching their cocktails and Cuban stogies for dear life. Priorities. I raced to the door first and held it open so nobody got crushed to death, namely yours truly. I got a couple drinks spilled on me and somebody singed my eyelash with particularly nasty Casa Vega. By the time I got out myself Malachi was faded past the crowd into the shadows.

I found myself once again standing outside the building I used to live in, wondering why I always lose a break so fast when I find one. Wondering who else besides Simone and I knows how high the stakes are. Wondering how I can measure what part of this cursed book business is real and what part’s shared delirium when the damn yardstick keeps melting.