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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

Riza Hawkeye
Riza Hawkeye
First Nomad

Jun-13-2012 20:28

As Molly was waiting for their room keys, Riza glanced around the bar. It was absolutely filthy. Tables were crooked, chairs were upturned, the windows were thick with grime, and the wooden floor reeked of urine and stale booze. Riza wrinkled her nose. No one in their right minds would come here. And fittingly, they were the only ones there.

Riza paid no mind to the obnoxiously loud bartender who was rummaging around the back room, occasionally swearing and yelling something unintelligible toward Molly. Instead, her mind was preoccupied with what she considered to be her recent bout of insanity. She flashed back to the previous evening's conversation with Molly.

"A couple months," Riza had said, and then lapsed into silence, struggling with her admission. "I couldn't have this...thing...growing inside of me. It's changing me, and I'm..."

Scared. Riza was scared. But it was a different kind of fear. It wasn't the same as staring down into the barrel of a gun. No. Riza had never felt more vulnerable in her life. What kind of mother would she make? What kind of life would this child have?

Riza was shaken out of her reverie by Molly snapping, "THANK YOU" at the bartender as she grabbed the keys out of the man's hand.

*Later That Evening*

A loud banging woke Riza up. She sat bolt upright in her bed, eyes adjusting to the dimly-lit room. Confused and disoriented, she watched Molly stride over to the door and pull it open to admit Marc and a sallow-looking stranger. With a small gasp, Riza realized the stranger was none other than Joseph Zeo, and her greeting caught in her throat.

Vulkie3
Vulkie3
Haynes

Jun-14-2012 07:38

"We need to go to a bar. Just pack some clothes and an extra gun if you still have one" Molly said, while she waited at the front door, with a small briefcase. Vulkie and Riza hurried upstairs and got some clothes. As Vulkie observed her suitcase, she decided to bring an extra M1911, just to be sure. She then shut the suitcase and rushed downstairs, where Molly was waiting with the car keys in her hand. "I'll drive this time" she said, while giving a sinister smile. "I know how you handle your cars." Molly added, while Vulkie looked up and said "whatever".

When the trio was in the car, Molly furiously drove towards a seedy bar somewhere downtown London. "Marc always knows the best spots in town" Vulkie murmured and Riza let out a small laugh. As the trio went inside, Molly asked the bartender for three seperate rooms. Molly and Riza would share one, Vulkie would have her own room and when Marc came, he could have his own room too.

As the trio waited for the bartender to return with the keys, Vulkie took a quick look through the bar. It was like a shared swimming pool for all sorts of bacteria. The windows weren't cleaned for ages, there was a penetrating smell of urine and booze combined, and the top shelf of the bar only had a layer of dust instead of quality booze.

"Here are your keys missy.." the bartender said to Molly, while giving a grin. Vulkie observed the bartender's grin and quickly discovered he only had a few teeth left in his mouth and those were yellow-ish, probably caused by too much smoking and too much alcohol. "THANK YOU" Molly shouted, and she went upstairs. Riza immediately followed her. Vulkie shouted "I'll meet up with you guys later, I'll have a drink first... Let's hope it doesn't kill me..." Vulkie shouted and Molly shouted back: "5 minutes, no more".


Vulkie3
Vulkie3
Haynes

Jun-14-2012 07:48

Vulkie ordered a large scotch on the rocks and took out a cigarette. The bartender immediately forwarded a lighter and lighted the cigarette for Vulkie. "Thanks" she murmered, while inhaling some smoke and blowing it out of her nostrils. She enjoyed the feeling of the nicotine, it made her relax a bit.

"So missy, I guess you're not from here?" the bartender said, while picking up a rag and started to clean off the bar. "No, actually, I'm from New York. My friends and myself are on a little tour, and we thought that London would be a nice change of scenery.." Vulkie replied.

"New York.. The City of the Big Apple. I always wanted to visit New York, but I never got the chance." the bartender said. Vulkie slipped him a 1000 dollar bill. "That should be enough to cover a ride on a boat. When we leave, you can probably visit New York...It's not like this place gets many visitors." Vulkie said. The bartender poured another drink for Vulkie, as she had already finished her first one. "This one's on the house sweety." the bartender said and Vulkie smiled. She enjoyed her second drink and then went upstairs to her room.

The room was small. There was a bed, a closet and a dresser next to the bed. There was a chair in a corner of the room, but the chair had seen better days. As Vulkie lay down, her eyes quickly closed and she fell asleep.

***Later on the day***.

A loud banging woke Vulkie up and she quickly jumped up and took out her faithful Colt .38 and carefully creeked open the door. As she peered outside, she saw Marc and a stranger. Although... a stranger? Vulkie waited until Marc and the stranger entered the room and the door closed. Vulkie immediately went over to Molly and Riza's room and knocked on the door. Marc was the one that opened the door. "Quickly, come in!" he whispered and Vulkie obeyed.

The next thing Vulkie saw, was that the stranger turned around and Vulkie backed up a bit, towards the wall. The stranger was none less then Joseph Zeo...

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-14-2012 08:04

* Wednesday Late Morning *

"Where are we going?" Zeo questioned while Marc was driving. They had been in the car for about half an hour, and Zeo noticed they were leaving the city.

"To get some fresh air." Marc replied flatly.

"But we don't have much time! The artifact transfer is supposed to take place today 4pm at the Museum office!"

"NOW you tell us!? Geez, it's happening today?" Marc was taken by surprised that he ran a light. Immediately he turned the car around, tires screeching, and headed back into the city. "We must meet up with Molly as soon as we can! I guess the fresh air can wait, along with the beating you deserve. Seriously I need to knock some sense into you!"

"So we're going to see Molly soon... And Riza..." Zeo contemplated.

"Yes, and Vulkie too. She's hurt. Riza went berserk the night you shot at us. She tried to stab her belly! I have no idea what pregnancy is doing to our cool headed dame. Good that Vulkie and Molly stopped her, but Vulkie now got a scar across her face."

Zeo went stone silent. So Riza didn't want this to happen. She was regretting it, and wanted to stab the baby. His appearance in front of Riza might set her off even more... And before Zeo could kick the habit entirely, before he could set things straight, he was not ready to see Riza.

Zeo made up his mind.

"Curator Carla Kane. I think she's in charge of the deal. Jack Billings addressed himself as William Jackson in front of her. This is everything I know." Zeo told Marc.

"You tell Molly when you see her." Marc replied absentmindedly as he made another left turn, "We need to plan this thing. Fast!" They were now in the out skirt of the city, and Zeo could see a city bus approaching the bus stop near them.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-14-2012 08:06

"Molly will figure something out." Zeo commented quickly, then he jumped out of the car. He rolled over several times and halted himself with his soles, then he ran for the bus stop just in time to catch the bus. Zeo could hear Marc swearing from behind him.

Marc pulled the break and jumped out of the car, but before he could reach the bus stop the double decker had already left the station. Zeo poked his head out of the window and yelled to Marc, "I need to make this work! From the inside. That is our edge now." Marc fired a few shots at the bus, but he was too far away to make any difference.


*Wednesday Early Afternoon*

"I must nick name you 'Clockwork Zeo'! You're right on time!" Jack Billings gibed. "I must thank Mr. Opiate for that."

Billings was standing by one of his 'loot', a painting by a certain famous Impressionist painter. Chaotic paint strokes filled the night sky in the masterpiece. He was admiring the work.

"Too bad the deal is not happening today. A collection of artifacts in the Museum turned out to be phony and the entire faculty was in turmoil. My contact has pushed the transaction back a day. Come back tomorrow at the same time, Zeo. Here's your 'life-extension'." Billings signaled his man with a slight nod. Two packets of the narcotic fell on the edge of the grand mahogany table where Zeo stood. The thin man took the packets and put it in his pocket. The narcotic called to him, but Zeo resisted. He could feel his head spinning, and wonder if he could really chuck the two packets away later on.

A small glint shone from the corner of Billings eyes. "That's all for now." Billings turned away and brushed Zeo off like a fly.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-14-2012 08:07

* * *

Zeo left from the front gate of Jack Billing's secluded mansion. Since he didn't have a car he had to walk a long way to find public transit. The narcotics in his pocket was singing to him a mesmerizing tune. His hands reached for the packets and his lighter unconsciously. Suddenly he stood frozen as he spotted his car parked beside the tall fence outside Billing's mansion.

"Marc..." Zeo swore under his breath. He hurried to the car, his cravings forgotten, but found it to be empty. Not far from the vehicle he saw a shadowy figure trying to climb over the barb wired fence. Reflexively he picked up a stone and threw it at the man.

Marc fell from the fence and hit the ground with a thump. "Marc, what the hell do you think you're doing?" Zeo hissed as he helped Marc up. "Do you realize how many Dobermans are there inside that yard? You'll be dog food before you reach the mansion!"

"Well you left me little choice!" Marc snapped.

"What little choice? You were supposed to go to Molly with the information i gave you! Now give me the car keys!" Zeo yelped as the two man returned to their car and drove away.

"I knew you'd run back to Billings. Didn't I tell you, he won't hesitate two seconds to blow your brains out!" Marc explained, "If he found out you're a mole, you'd be dead before you knew it. Beside," Marc added skeptically, "you're not stable."

"What, you think I'll be piping up and shooting at you again? I'm telling you for the last time, the shot I fired back at the safe house was made to warn you!" Zeo was exasperated. Marc tried to argue but Zeo stopped him. "Look, the deal has been postponed until tomorrow, same time. Let Molly know about this. I'm going back to Billings tomorrow, and there's nothing you say that can stop me."

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-14-2012 08:25

Nightfall was settling by the time Zeo made a right turn and stopped beside the rundown Jazz bar where the rendez-vous was to take place. Zeo could feel his urge returning. This time it was more a mental hunger then a physical one, but not a drop less powerful. "You get off here Marc. See you tomorrow on the 'opposite' side, but rest assure I know what I'm doing."

"Oh no you don't!" Marc pulled Zeo out of the car and slammed him against the front door of the Jazz club, smashing it to pieces. He then demanded the obnoxious-looking bartender to tell him where Molly Maltese was staying. Feeling the fire in Marc's voice, the bartender cowered and pointed him to her room.

Marc dragged Zeo up the stair and banged on the door. Molly opened cautiously and let the two man in. Zeo immediately spotted Riza, who looked like she just swallowed a fly. Zeo wished he was invisible right then and there.

A knock from behind them broke the awkward pause. It was Vulkie. Marc quickly let her in and locked the door. Zeo decided to go all professional and avoid the issue with his state of deterioration. He avoided eye-contact with Riza at all costs.

"The artifact transfer is happening tomorrow at 4pm at the Museum office." Zeo announced to the air above him, "The Curator in charge is Carla Kane. There is some havoc happening at the museum right now so the deal, which originally was happening today, has been pushed back to tomorrow."

Regardless of all the question Zeo knew the ladies had about him, everyone were listening to his words carefully. "Molly you may be able to use this opportunity to pose as Carla, or any of you ladies can. From the sound of things I do not believe Jack Billings and Carla Kane has met. Billings is using the false name 'William Jackson' for this trade.'

"I will be going to the artifacts transfer with Billings--" Zeo stated. All three ladies casted a grim look as they heard this.


Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-14-2012 08:57

"Which is the most foolish idea I've ever heard of!" Marc interrupted, "Joseph I'm saying this again, you'll be dead before--"

Zeo finally lost his temper. He pushed Marc all the way to the window and the panes flung wide open. Marc was hanging half way out, the only thing stopped him from falling was Zeo's firm grip on his shirt. With Zeo's present condition he knew he must make this threat a quick one. In no way did he wanted to lose or kill a true friend.

"Don't." Zeo's word was hard and final. "You have no idea what you're putting me through -- putting Riza through by dragging my ass up here!" Blood seared through Zeo's veins on his temple. The quiet words came out between his clenched teeth. "Do not tell them a single thing about my 'condition', you hear me? It'll ruin her!"

Zeo quickly pulled Marc back into the room before his arms give in. He then slipped the two packets into Marc's pocket. "Burn these for me." Zeo whispered in Marc's ears. He then looked into his old friend's eyes, "Trust me."

He then turned around and faced the ladies, still avoiding eye contact with Riza. "As I was saying, I will be going to the deal with Billings, to watch your backs." Zeo instinctively cast his gaze on Riza's belly. "The scum bag is as sly as gutter slim. I need to make sure he stays in his grave, this time."

Zeo swiftly dashed to the door. He did not allow time for any more protests or queries. He just hoped Marc will keep his secret for him. The dignity was too much to lose. Not until he win the battles, that is, both with Billings and the demon within.

The engine roared as Zeo escaped quickly from his friends. His urges lingered strongly, however, like the stench of a corpse that would not go away for days. He knew this night will be a difficult one, but at least he had ridden himself of the temptations. He decided to get some handcuffs for himself for the night. That might stop him from doing anything foolish.

M. Lacrimosa
M. Lacrimosa
Sleuth About Town

Jun-14-2012 19:17

Late Wednesday Night:

Marc puffed on his pipe as he stared into the flames that licked the frigid air. The heat from the fire in the trash barrel hit his face. He could feel his skin turn red but he didn't back away from the fire.

His mind wandered from thought to thought; reflecting on the past few days. He thought of Riza. Riza Hawkeye. God, she was beautiful. But she was carrying Zeo's baby. Zeo. The thought of his name changed Marc's thoughts to Zeo. Joseph had gotten mixed up doing the wrong things with the wrong people. No one is perfect, Marc thought to himself.

Zeo was right. Marc didn't know what he was putting Joseph or Riza through by bringing the man into the room. Did Riza get mad? Probably. Or was she shocked? Marc doubted she actually expected Zeo to be forced into the room.

Marc remembered the opium Joseph had put in Marc's pocket. "Burn these for me," he whispered in Marc's ear. Marc reached into his pocket and pulled out the small bags. He dropped one in the fire and the flames rose and roared. The other bag, he still held in his hand which led his mind wander to the drugs.

Opium sold for quite a bit on the streets. Marc held well over a gram of opium. He could easily fifty or sixty dollars out of it. It was tempting to pocket the drug and sell it for a few easy dollars. Is it worth it? Marc asked himself this question. He had to force himself to answer that. No it wasn't. That would make him a hypocrite and he knew it. He forced Zeo to quit without weaning him off of the junk. Marc dropped the bag into the fire.



Andrew Corelli
Andrew Corelli
Huntsman

Jun-15-2012 19:30

The man in the tan leather jacket opened the door of the car, removed his hat and from the glove compartment he produced a small pair of binoculars, he was starving and desperately needed a coffee, but for that kind of work the first rule is to never drink coffee or alcohol, the suspect may flee at the first distraction.

Inside the car, he focused the binoculars to the windows of the bar, a dim light was all he could see, not a single shadow or movement. After a couple of minutes Joseph Zeo made his exit in a car, the man started the engine, and after a couple of seconds he turn it off.

He already had Zeo..., but the people in the bar, his client could be interested in them.

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