I checked my gun for ammunition, left Kowalski and the dead mook and made my way through the club’s kitchen, walking slowly through the next corridor so that I could hear if anybody was coming.
The only sound other than my own footsteps, was a semi-chaotic tinkling of ivory keys on a piano as somebody played a familiar jazz tune. Eva was expecting me, and this was an ambush I was walking into. Peter would probably be there, fawning over her.
Still, I needed the money his late auntie’s lawyers were paying me, so there was no real choice.
I walked into the main room and paused in the doorway while I glanced around. It was just how I remembered it; plush red carpets, crystal chandeliers set amidst a mural of the night sky painted on the ceiling, tasselled drapes and gold framed pictures, dark wooden furniture all soaking up the dim warm glow of gas lamps and smoky candles on the tables.
My eyes found her legs first, the supple smoothness of an exposed calve and thigh leading up to the place where the split in her long evening dress ended, then travelled up past the curve of her hips and trim waist to the swell of her bosom and the tantalising glimpse of cleavage. A long lingering moment later I looked up at her face to find her voluptuous red lips parted revealing neat pearly white teeth set in a wide grin, her own eyes twinkling like those of a demented shrew.
There was a gorilla in suit on either side of her, each of them holding a Tommy gun. As I stepped into the room I heard the click of a gun being cocked behind me, felt the hard muzzle press firmly into my back. I put my hands in the air as a hand reached around and relieved me of my own weapon, another pair of hands patted me down before I was herded towards Eva’s table. I saw Peter sat at a table just behind and to the right of hers, he slouched into his chair and glowered at me as I approached.
I half smiled at Eva. “I see you’ve been busy.”
“I always thought of patience as a sin, letting life pass you by while you wonder what could have been, waiting for some perfect moment to find you with a ray of sunshine. Utter baloney.”
“Yeah, you got me. There again, I didn’t have anybody killed to further my ambitions.”
Eva looked at me with a withering smile, then giggled. “You used to love my ambitions. You told me that someday I could be a star. Do you want me to sing for you Frank? Do you miss my voice?”
“A singsong villain huh? Is that what you wanted to grow up to be when you were a little girl? With little Petey-boy looking after you?”
She pouted. “Oh shush, there’s no need to be jealous Frank. I always wanted to end up with you.”
Peter sat up straight, eyes wide. “Eva! My darling, my love, what are you saying?”
Eva ignored him, smiled at me. “You know, after I’m done with him we could get together again. What do you think honey? You game for another turn on the dance-floor?”
“Nah. I’d rather take my chances with some floozy in a bar and see how it goes.”
She scowled, pursing her lips. “At least I’m not some washed up tragedy of an alcoholic. I’m getting ahead in life, while you rot away like the trash you are. I’m going to be somebody! You’re not a great detective anymore. How dare you judge me?”
“I can judge you because no matter how low I might sink, I’ll never murder somebody for their money.”
“Oh yeah? Well you can keep your piety and go back to the gutter you crawled out of you sanctimonious bastard. I’m finished with you.”
There was a loud bang which set my ears ringing as a flash temporarily blinded me. After a few moments I stood up straight and saw gun-smoke rising and pirouetting in the air, forming spirals in the sky-mural as the fumes dissipated.