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Nine Lives
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Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

May-9-2012 18:06

The office door slammed against the wall with a bang, and papers swirled restlessly across the desks of the darkened room. He looked up from his bottle of gin, bleary eyes just registering the figure outlined in the doorway. It was tall, and from the cast of the hips and tucked in-waist silhouetted in the black trench, it was a woman. She stood on black stilettos, and a black snood concealed her hair from view as surely as the netted veil did her face.

"Who is that?" he asked nervously, squinting his eyes. There was a pause, and then the figure moved forward, legs, hips rolling smoothly in an unmistakable way. He paled; rearing back in the chair so that it almost fell. He righted it with a clatter, fingers shaking.

"A ghost?" he breathed, suddenly terrified. Was the moonshine bad? Giving him the jake- was he hallucinating? The black ensemble of the woman suddenly seemed more foreboding than chic. "You...I thought you were dead!"

She moved forward, just inches away from him in the dim lamplight. Slowly, black satin-clad hands lifted up, grasped the edge of the veil, and pulled it back. Her glossy red lips shone in a vulpine smirk in the light.

"I never die. Nine lives, you know." Molly Maltese breathed in her sotto voice. "I've been to the end of the world, my dear, and I've brought back the case to end all cases for you."

Replies

M. Lacrimosa
M. Lacrimosa
Sleuth About Town

Jun-6-2012 20:27

"Let's get back to the safe house," Marc shouted quickly. He feared for Molly and Riza. He had left them by themselves. They jumped in an abandon car. Marc yanked out a knife and popped off the ignition cap. and started the car by shoving the knife in the ignition.

When he walked in Molly met them. She slapped him, hard across the face. "What the hell were you thinking? Do you realize we could have just been captured or killed?!"

"Hey, last time I checked, I just saved your ass." Marc said calmly. "Plu-"

"Hold that thought." Molly said. "Where is Riza?" She left to go search the house. A couple of minutes passed and Vulkie went to find Molly. Marc sighed. A minute later everyone was in the kitchen. "We got a problem," Marc said. "Joseph Zeo is working with them."

Molly looked up at him and nodded. "We know." She told them about her encounter with him.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-7-2012 08:50

"Zeo! You freaking idiot! What the hell do you think you're doing?" 


Marc's comment rung in Zeo's head all night. Theo's injury gave Zeo the best excuse to retreat. He didn't want to be there in the first place, but he needed to do something to keep his 'supply' flowing. Zeo prayed that none of his friends were injured.

Zeo fired the warning shot on purpose. With his aim he could've killed Marc easily, but it was made to inform them of the ambush. Zeo didn't intend to show his face, but Vulkie recognized his voice. When he met Molly's icy stare, the shame within him welled up. Zeo told himself that they must not know about his habit.

The supply of narcotic was running low. Billings made sure Zeo was kept on a tight leash. Zeo knew he had until morning before he'd need to 'report' back, otherwise his cravings would be too much for him to handle.

The group would move out by morning the latest anyhow, given the location of the safe house was now exposed. He decided to give Molly a visit immediately, with the night as his cloak, hoping that they haven't left already. He didn't want to see Marc or Vulkie, or whoever else was in the group... unless Anais was there... actually, he didn't want Anais or anyone he truly cared about to see him like this. Zeo really didn't know what he wanted anymore.

All he knew was that this was a war between two people. If Zeo could get Molly to back down somehow, to leave town even, he could then ease himself out of this. Knowing Molly, this was probably wishful thinking; perhaps it was an excuse in itself. Zeo needed help, but never would the once proud detective admit to it.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-7-2012 08:51

* * *

Zeo crept under the bitter moonless sky. All the lights in the safe house were out, except for a faint glow emanating from the room Molly usually occupied.

Perfect.

He peered into the room and saw Molly in a serious black nightgown with beautiful cuttings. Someone else was with her in the room. Riza. She looked pale, as if she hadn't eaten in days and was working double shifts.

For some reason he didn't want Riza to see him in his current state. Not at all. Exposing himself from afar was one thing, having them notice all the signs within close range was another. Zeo inched further away from the window and looked in again.

Holding a glass of wine by one hand, Molly seemed to be refusing to give Riza a drink. Zeo could faintly make out their conversation.

"If I knew you couldn't resist... wouldn't have bought the glass of wine in here... You have to think of... " Molly explained apologetically. Was Riza in trouble? Zeo knew indubitably the lure of addiction, and wished on his dear life that Riza wasn't in such trouble. He began to worry for Riza.

Zeo tried not to eave drop, but he had to wait until Molly was alone before he could show himself. He remained where he was - out of sight, in the shadow.

Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

Jun-7-2012 11:14

"I'm sorry, my dearest." Molly was saying. "You know I'd give you a drink if I could, hell- I think we need it. Here, I'll get rid of it."

And so saying, Molly picked up the wine glass with a dramatic flourish and opened the window, inches away from where Zeo hid. "Vive la resistance!" she cried, and with a dramatic wink for Riza, flung it out the window. It shattered on the pavement below, and the shards glittered in the pale moonlight. Even Riza had to crack a smile at that.

"I think I'll tuck in for the night." Riza said finally, and Molly gave her a pat on the shoulder. "Thats probably best, dearest. It'll be better in the morning." she said, and the words rang flat and untrue in the air between them. Looking like a lost child, Riza wandered out and Molly shut the door behind her, leaning against it for a moment if only to catch her breath.

"What an interesting turn of events." she mused to herself as she checked her delicate wristwatch and began to take it off. The clasp was caught, and frowning she brought it closer to her face for inspection. "I wonder if I'll ever see these lot, and rather than running off to avert a crisis here and there, we just had afternoon tea. Just a perfectly normal tete-a-tete, wouldn't that be nice?"

In the next second she yelped as hands closed about her wrists and spun her around. Her back was against a warm, solid chest, a hand over her mouth to prevent undue screaming.

"Hello, Molly." Joseph Zeo whispered, and her eyes widened.

"MmmMMMMrRRRrrrGHPPPPPH" she said furiously against his hand, struggling like a scalded cat.

"Molly, I beg of you. I mean you no harm. I need you to hear me out. A simple talk is all I ask- you can grant me that." he pleaded, and after a moments deliberation, Molly narrowed her eyes and gave a sharp nod. He released her, and slowly she turned to face him, hands already rising to her hips.

"Boy, you sure do know--why Joseph, you look positively awful!" The anger didnt conceal the flash of concern.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-7-2012 17:47

"I don't have much time." Zeo looked out the window and saw a hint of light already simmering in the horizon. "Look, Billings know why you're here, and he will not let any hiccup stop the deal from going through. He's already in contact with the Museum and the transaction is happening any time soon. Leave London. Forget this whole thing. This place isn't safe, and Riza didn't look well. Go home, take her to a doctor."

"And why are you so concerned with Riza?" Molly tested, "Look like YOU are the one who needs medical help."

"I have enough 'medical help'." Zeo gave a short cold laugh, "Riza is a good friend, I don't wish any harm on her-"

"Which includes shooting at us?" Molly raised and eyebrow to the ceiling; her fists were now firmly planted on her hips.

"Molly, I really don't want to go into this in detail. All you need to know is that I really didn't want to do it. Now, please just leave London."

Molly crossed her arms and gave Zeo a cold stare. Her answer was as clear as day.

Zeo raked his hair with his fingers, it was more difficult then he thought, but then, lately his thoughts were as solid as a sand castle by the shore. Zeo began to feel his knees buckling. His mouth was dry, and he needed a 'smoke'. It was getting worse and span shorter and short each time. Suddenly he thought of an idea.

"If I am to get you details of the transaction, the false name Billings was using for this trade plus where this was happening, then you could hijack it, posing as the Musuem representative. No blood shed... What do you think?" Before Molly could reply, Zeo felt his stomach boiled over. He vomitted out the window, right on top of the shattered wine glass. He must leave now.

"Zeo what's wrong with you?-" Molly frowned.

"Meet me two days from now at this exact time." Zeo told Molly the name and location of a secluded bar, "Tell no one that you saw me. PLEASE." Zeo climbed down from the window, almost falling. He didn't even have time to apologize for the mess.

Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

Jun-8-2012 10:52

Molly crossed her arms and watched Zeo stumble down the street, shaking her head slowly.
"Why has everyone absolutely gone and fell to pieces?" she questioned, looking at the sky and shaking her head. Sighing she went back to her small desk and carefully made a note of the address and name of the bar to meet Zeo in case she should forget. After that was done, she turned out the lights and tucked herself in, staring into the darkness and pondering as she tapped her fingers.
She had come to London with the sole purpose of retrieving the Nine Lives, but her proposed team was looking more rag-tag by the second. A careful eye had to be kept on Riza, and despite everything, she was genuinely worried about Zeo, and knew that she would be doing-two days from now- whatever was in her power to help her old friend.
"Well old girl, these are the days." she whispered to herself, then closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

M. Lacrimosa
M. Lacrimosa
Sleuth About Town

Jun-9-2012 12:51

The bar was filled with laughter from the drunks. The more drunk people got, the louder they spoke. Marc sat down at the bar. It was late. Every one at the safe house was most likely asleep. "What are ye gettin' laddie?" the bartender asked, with a heavy Scottish accent. "Give me about four fingers of rye on the rocks."

The man nodded. A minute later, his drink was served. "Wait," Marc said as the man was leaving to serve another customer. "I have a question for you." Marc held up an old photograph of Zeo. "Have you seen this man before?" "Who's askin?" The man said staring at the picture. "I am," Marc said. "I'm a private detective and I need to ask him a few...questions."

The bartender nodded. "Aye. I've seen 'em before. Quiet one, this man. He don't say much. Only comes in every now and then. Has a few drinks and leaves."

"You wouldn't happen to know where he's staying, do you?" Marc asked. "I don't know, maybe. My mind's a little fuzzy right now."

That pissed Marc off. He debated pulling his gun out but that would cause a scene. He could try to intimidate the man but that may also cause a scene. His last option was bribery. Every detective hated it but sometimes it worked. He slid the man two dollars.

"I don't know exactly where," the bartender said pocketing the money, "but I heard he stays across town in a small apartment across the street from a jazz club."

"Any name for the club?"

"Could be any one of them. There are four in this town."

"Thanks," Marc said. He finished the last of his drink and paid the man.

He made his way back to the safe house. The door was locked and he didn't have a key. He picked the lock slowly so it wouldn't make any noise. Marc locked the door back and made his way to his room and was asleep before any one noticed he was gone. In the morning, know one would know he had gotten a lead on Josephs whereabouts. The hard part was going to be finding it.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-10-2012 07:21

*Monday morning*

"Ah! Our infamous detective Zeo is finally back!" Jack Billings mocked.

Zeo eyed Billings through his sunken sockets. He drifted, half-crawled across the room to the grand mahonginy desk. His knees finally buckled, and if he wasn't supporting his upper body with his arms with the desk, he would have been kneeling in front of Billings. Zeo locked his jaws tight. He could think of nothing but the narcotic; his dreams were filled with it, but somewhere deep in his consciousness a remnant of dignity stopped him from begging.

"You know what I need," was all Zeo could utter with the strength he had left. Billings signaled the man on his left with a slight of his wrist. Immediately Zeo was given a good dozage of the narcotic. Zeo wasted no time and lit up.


There were at least a dozen henchmen at the basement of Jack Billing's secluded mansion, even this early in the morning. To call it a basement was an understatement. It was more like a vault. The room where they met seemed to be cut out from one giant solid piece of rock, and the door was made of solid steel. Every surface seemed impenetrable. The pictures hung on the walls, as well as the sculptures on display, each piece would worth at least thousands of dollars. Yet, the most valuable asset of all, Nine Lives, was nowhere in sight.

The advantage of jewellry is its ease of storage. It could be in a secret compartment within the room, under the pillow in Jack's bedroom, worn around his neck under his shirt this very moment, or none of the above. Zeo knew that if Molly was to find her lost jewel, the best chance was to retrieve it during the transaction itself.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-10-2012 08:20

While Zeo was in his trance Billings wasted no time. Running his usual businesses as if Zeo wasn't there, Billings got his crews to run jobs for him, including a team to check on Molly's safehouse in case they find anything there, which Billings himself doubted. He was also on the phone talking to various people. One conversation in particular caught Zeo's ears. Billings was talking to Curator Carla Kane from the museum. He addressed himself as William Jackson, and they were to meet this coming Wednesday 4pm at the museum office.

This Wednesday afternoon. The deal came through faster then Zeo expected. If Zeo was to meet Molly late Tuesday night as agreed, that would leave them only half a day to prepare. The problem was, there was no way to contact them now that they probably have left the safe house.

"Zeo I need you to fill Theo's spot for the museum deal." Billings suddenly said. "With his injured shoulder he can't shoot a fly. That bloke had been nothing but trouble. I'm telling you again, you should have proceeded with the raid yesterday."

"If I did Theo would have died from bleeding." Zeo replied. Slowly he returned to his normal senses, except he imagined that Billings gave a smirk to his reply... or maybe it was not a hallucination after all.

"My wife is just a distraction now. I need to concentrate on the deal. She'd be no thread to me in two day's time anyway." Billings said smugly. "I've got her picture all over town. She couldn't buy a soda without me notified of it. And if she show up at the deal, I have you to take care of her." Billings grinned and then tossed Zeo another 4 packets. "This is for leading us to her safe house; now she has nowhere to hide. This dosage will keep you sane for 2 days. Come back here early Wednesday afternoon and we'll leave for the museum together."

Zeo said nothing and put the packets away. They felt very heavy in his pocket, but not because of their actual weight.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-10-2012 08:38

The broken man returned to his small filthy flat. He haven't slept for a long time, but the saxophonist rehearsing in the jazz club across from him kept him awake. He was forced to think about how everything happened and when it started to spiral downwards. He haven't thought of his lost love and lost daughter for a long time and the knots inside of him ached.

Finally, with the saxophone rehearsing Billie Holiday's 'The Breakdown', Zeo drifted off to a dreamless slumber.

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