BLOOD ON THE CONCRETE HARDWOOD CH.6 - USE THE FORCE, MAN
By Steven Novak
As the last of Missy’s finely aged honeypot escapes through the door you notice the old broad has left something rather peculiar behind: her face.
Spread across the hardwood just outside the doorway is a folded up mass of form-fitting latex and fake hair. She was wearing a mask. That cuckoo dame was wearing a mask!
Clive notices exactly what his mother’s left behind as well and seems as surprised as you. He drops to his knees and buries his head in his hands. “Ma? I don’t—? What’s going—?” His head flops to the floor and the waterworks begin to flow.
In a pinch you’re onto your feet and out the door, moving quicker than a snow-bird on his fourth bag of happy powder. There are clothes scattered throughout the hall; the dress Missy was wearing, her stockings and a lacy white bra stuffed with two cantaloupe halves.
That crazy sharp-shooting dame wasn’t a dame at all – just some shyster trying to pull the wool over your eyes!
Snagging the heater from the holster at your side you follow the trail of the fake Missy’s unmentionables downstairs. A single shoe and a pair of lacy panties with a maxi-pad still stuck to the crotch leads you right out the front door and into the street.
Even a maxi-pad? The gowed-up gink posing as the age, Mrs. Sinclair was certainly dedicated.
The city’s packed tight with flatties flopping flivvers, and eggs drowning their sorrows in eel juice. You hate this part of town: nothing but flophouses, flimflam men, derricks and dinguses. There are too many places to hide and too many people to hide behind. Some lousy bruno slams into your shoulder and sends you spinning. A leggy dame offers what’s hidden beneath her britches for everything in your wallet.
You’ll never find the pad-sporting son of a bitch in this mass of dummies.
That’s when it hits you: the Force. You’ll use the Force.
Don Forceman of Force Electric, that is.
He’s an old friend and his company has been hanging telephone wire in this part of town for over a week. You spot him at the end of the block, perched on a lift fifty feet in the air.
You scream in his direction at the top of your lungs. “Hey! Forceman!”
Surprisingly, Don hears you over the chatter of the city and waves in your direction.
You cup your hands around your mouth, shove past a pair of juiced-up hombres and yell, “Donnie! Did ya see some jingle-berried jasper come running out of this building?”
Forceman nods and points his finger in the direction of alley at the end of the block. You flash him a thumbs up and a moment later you’re plowing through the crowd of noodles with their oodles of nose-candy, sprinting full speed in the direction of Forceman’s all-knowing digit.
Don Forceman – a heck of a guy.
When you reach the alley you stop for a moment to catch your breath. Peeking carefully around the corner, you spot the red-hot you’ve been chasing, hidden in the shadows alongside a dumpster. His body is silhouetted against the lights from a neon sign a bit further down. He’s long and lanky and muscular. He’s a tall bottle of hooch to boot – well over seven feet. Unfortunately you can’t make out any specific facial features.
Once he’s done changing clothes, he reaches into a box at the foot of the dumpster, retrieves what you think is another mask and pulls it tightly over his head.
This roscoe’s no rube. He’s sharp. He’s well built and he’s quick. This trouble boy’s a master of disguise.
If he runs, you’ll lose him forever in the crowd. You can’t let him get away. You cock back the hammer on your rod, lift it to your head and spin around the corner. “Meathooks to the sky, palooka!”
He doesn’t listen.
They never listen.
Instead the lousy good for nothing bastard kicks a trash can lid box in your direction. You slip the airborne steel and fire a few rounds down the alley. A pill blasts past your ear and knocks the fedora from your noggin. Apparently he’s got a stick of smoking lead of his own.
Before you know it, the bullets are flying.
The brick wall to your left explodes. Two slugs ricochet off the garbage can next to you and send it spinning to the ground. Diving forward, you somersault and unload what’s left in the cartridge at your shadowy opponent. Your aim is better than his. His body whips against a section of chain link fence and drops to the concrete.
By the time you reach him, he’s gasping for air and clinging to his remaining breaths like a dope peddler clutching a handful of hot dough. Though you don’t recognize the face of the mask he’s wearing, you can’t help but take note of the incredible realism. The mustache alone is a thing of beauty.
After popping a fresh cartridge into your heater you point the barrel at his head. “I’m only gonna ask this once, ya lousy bum, and after I’m done asking you’re gonna spill like you’ve never spilled before. Got it?”
He shakes his head, struggling to breathe with a hole in his chest.
“Who are you and who sent you?”
Behind his award winning ‘stache, the son of a bitch’s lips curl into a smile. “I’m just the guy hired by the guys, asshole.” He chuckles a bit before coughing up blood.
His jaw moves forward and he bites down on something in the back of his mouth. A foamy white discharge begins to pour from between his lips and seeps down the sides of his face.
The lousy good for nothing is munching on cyanide!
Your hands fumble their way into the collar of his shirt and snag the base of the mask covering his head. When you rip it from his noggin you come face to face with the last person you were expecting.
Half submerged in a puddle of alley-filth and hobo barf is none other than NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was made an honorary Globetrotter in 1989.
The reality of what you’re looking at and what it must mean smacks you in the chest, and for a moment you stop breathing. Suddenly it all makes sense. You should have seen it from the beginning.
You know what you have to do.
A. Reload your heater, find the ‘Trotters and get some answers the old-fashioned way?
B. Snag a disguise from Kareem’s box of goodies, find the ‘Trotters and get some answers the new-fashioned way?
C. Strip naked, grab a steel pipe, find the ‘Trotters and get some answers the cave-man way?