Airs and Heiresses
New York, 1938
St. Regis Hotel
"So there I was, staring down a barrel INCHES from death...and I told the man, 'darling REALLY, if you simply must shoot me do allow me to remove my earrings. They are Cartier, you know." Molly Maltese paused to take a sip of her Red Snapper, popping the olive neatly between her cherub lips before gnashing it to a pulp. "And the man was quite flummoxed, he said- I say, is that Riza Hawkeye?"
She rose, the group of rapt men in tuxedos and women in glittering dresses and furs murmuring their protests as she wended through their knees. But the apparition she was quite sure had been Riza Hawkeye had vanished in the crowd of New York socialites populating the exclusive terrace.
"Well, this place is a bit ritzy for Riza." she murmured, fairly certain her old acquaintance didn't make a habit of populating social-climbing fetes. And she reasoned, any time Riza had appeared before it was hardly ever for a pleasant cause. Well, maybe that was unfair. It just seemed she was more the swirl-of-furs-and-stiletto-daggers type than a frothy socializer like Molly herself.
Peering around, Molly saw nothing but the shadowed faces of revelers partially cloaked in the smoky haze. She had just been about to give up and go back to her companions when the most shocking hubbub began. Over on the north part of the terrace, she could distinctly hear the shouts of men and panicked screeching of females. Moving forward, she could just make out..
"Did you see... The Ambassador... who could have... murder! Someone has pushed the Ambassador off the building!" Molly picked up speed, expertly weaving through the crowd of panicked voices. Sirens already began to sound twenty stories below. Just as she grasped the ledge and looked over, an all too familiar voice sounded in her left ear.
"Oh hello there, old friend. Lovely breeze out today."
Before her stood Riza Hawkeye herself, looking utterly unruffled as several ladies fainted behind her.
Molly sighed and swiped at her brow. "This seems like a story best enjoyed over scotch."
She turned to Riza. "I don't think there's any further knowledge to be gained here at present, and I sure don't want to hang around with a corpse if the cops show up again. Marc's apartment is close- do you still have the same apartment Marc?" This question was directed at him.
"Yes, it's been kept up in my absence. Let's head there." Marc said, and the three started off, Molly picking her way gingerly out of the room and throwing one final glance back at the corpse. "What do you have to do with anything?" She wondered, then turned to follow her friends.
Some minutes later, they arrived at Marc's apartment. The landlord Tom had poked his head out and remarked darkly about Marc's apartment being akin to the New York train station. The three looked at each other and shrugged. Once in Marc's apartment, he looked around curiously and poked his head in the other rooms.
"Someone's been here." He said, wandering into the bedroom. Molly and Riza looked at each other curiously and then at the door when they heard Marc's chuckle.
He reappeared holding a note. "It was Vulkie, she wanted to see me."
Vulkie met Marc at her apartment door with open arms. "I can't believe you're back!" She exclaimed. Marc smiled as he walked in her apartment followed by Riza and Molly.
"It's been too long," Marc said as he hugged her. He looked around the room at his three friends. Too long was an understatement. They last three years seemed like an eternity. The truth was, Marc wished he had been the one to die instead of Sal.
"You dropped off the face of the earth," Vulkie stated. "I thought you'd never return."
Marc sighed. "You have a drink?"
Vulkie nodded. She disappeared and returned a moment later with scotch and glasses, then she filled each one. Could he bring himself to tell the truth? How after he lost his mind he sunk to his all time low? Could bring himself to say why he was partially responsible for Sal's death? No. Not now. Would Molly or Riza think he was still nuts? Maybe. And what about Vulkie?
Scars of betrayal marked his chest. But now if he told his story would be called a hypocrite? The people staring back at him were of the very few friends he had left.
He took a sip of the scotch. "It's hard to explain" Marc said. "I...screwed up, and as a result, a close and old friend was killed."
"And it seems," he continued, "one of the men who was also responsible was a witness for a new case Molly and Riza are working."
"So where is he?" Vulkie asked.
"Dead," Riza cut in. "Killed by Marc, tortured for who knows how long, and then shot right between the eyes."
Marc rolled his eyes and strolled to the window and stared outside.
"Tell me about this case," Vulkie said sounding excited.
"The Ambassador was killed. Pushed off a building," Molly said. "But the strange thing that so.some cut off his....member."
Marc frowned. Did he hear that right? The man's member was it off? Stranger Things have happened, he thought to himself.
Vulkie jumped up. "I've seen this before!" She exclaimed running down to her room.
"You have?" Molly and Riza asked simultaneously. They shared the same puzzled look on their face.
"Sure," Vulkie said. "I've been reading the articles but haven't looked into it. I simply didn't have the time at first."
She dumped an arm full of newspapers headlined from around the world, each one with similar headlines.
Marc reached down and began looking at the headlines. Shanghai, New Delhi, Cairo, London..literally all over the world. He lit a cigarette.
"Who's up for an adventure?" He asked with a smile.
"Who's up for an adventure" Marc asked with a smile on his face, while smoking his cigarette and blowing the cigarette smoke out of his nostrils.
As Vulkie had observed her friends, she noticed that some of them seemed absent - minded, their thoughts focused on something else. It wasn't like them to drift off into the depths of their minds, pre-occupied, but she made a side note of it in her own mind and didn't bother to go deeper into what everyone was bothered with.
"I sure am" Vulkie said, placing her Colt 1911 on the table. "But the thing is, where do we even start? Since Marc silenced our only lead, we have nothing to go on, except for these stories that involve the same shocking event." Vulkie added.
Everyone looked down on the floor, until Molly came up with something. "Regarding these headlines - how long of a period has there been between each article?" Molly said, while glaring over to Marc who still had his eyes focused on the articles.
"It seems that every article came out 2 months after the other - so there IS a pattern of two months." Marc said. "So there is a pattern involved... anything more you can get from the headlines Marc?" Riza asked, while sipping from her scotch.
"It seems that not only Ambassadors are targeted, but also some people who are involved in the nouveau riche section. People who have inherited a lot of money and began to squander it on expensive things, like luxery cars and mansions and such..." Marc said.
"So our mystery dismemberer targets well known people, either in a public or non - public function, but it all involves men. There's no mention of a woman being dismembered?" Vulkie said, while looking over towards Marc.
"As far as I can see, no... But I can tell you this. The most recent case seems to have taken place in Cairo. Might we start there?" Marc asked, awaiting approval from the rest to agree with this plan.
"Vulkie dear, it would be rather difficult for women to be the targets of these killings, for they lack a certain...something," Riza quipped.
"The most recent case seems to have taken place in Cairo. Might we start there?" Marc asked.
Molly heaved a sigh. "Who would have thought my wonderful evening would turn out like this?"
"We have no choice," Riza replied.
"Hold on a minute," Marc said suddenly, as if something had just occurred to him. "These victims had money. And they could buy anything they wanted with it. Food. Houses. Cars. Even..."
"Sex," everyone replied.
"The man Marc just killed," Riza said with a pointed glance at him, "Was in charge of a brothel. If this has been happening all over the world, maybe he wasn't the top dog."
"I'll pull some strings and make the arrangements," Vulkie said immediately. "We'll leave first thing in the morning."
Everyone went home to pack and take a short rest. Though they each went their separate ways for the evening, they did so with smiles, for they were secretly glad that this case had given them a reason to reunite for old times' sake.
As Vulkie closed the door after her friends had left, she placed her hands over her face and started to massage it. She hadn't expected that everything would be going so smooth and that they would leave the next day already. But, as Vulkie always said: "A dish is best served warm", and while the case in Cairo was their "hottest" lead, they had to seize the oppertunity immediately and travel towards Cairo to follow up.
As Vulkie went back to her office chair, she sat down and grabbed the phone. As she dialed the number, she waited until it was picked up on the other end.
"JFK Airport, you're speaking with Jenny, how may I help you?" Jenny said.
"Hello Jenny, you're speaking with Victoria Nouson. I'd like to book a private plane for at least 4 people towards Cairo, first thing in the morning. Everyone is bringing at least 1 piece of luggage. Costs don't matter, I'll take care of that" Vulkie replied, while thinking of the money she amassed in her career as a jewelry thief. She had at least millions stored in her Swiss Bank account and it was all safe and sound there.
After an additional 5 minutes of talking back and forth, the reservation was made. A private plane would be standing by for Vulkie and her friends in the early morning.
As she hung up, she searched through her drawers and found a small black notebook that contained numbers of contacts that Vulkie had also gained over the years. As she searched, she found the number she was looking for and dialed it.
Knowing the time difference, it would be in the early morning already over there and the person she tried to phone wouldn't be too happy.
The person who answered the phone started off in Egyptian talk, most of which were swear words. But as soon as that person was done, Vulkie replied: "Hello old friend. It's time to call in that favor that you still owe me."
*cont in next post*
*Note - I mentioned JFK airport here - but I meant the airport in New York -> my silly mind wasn't comprehensing that it had a different name before that* -> *bows and apologises*
"Miss Nouson - how good it is to hear your voice again. How has the weather been in New York?" the contact replied on Vulkie's answer, trying to start a bit of casual talk.
"Well Hassan, for the last couple of weeks, it's been a bit raining and a bit clouded. But that's not what I wanted to talk about. Listen, we're arriving tomorrow in the late afternoon in Cairo. I can't talk about it over the phone, and won't bore you down with it - but I'm currently on a highly valued case that has caused a somewhat international commotion. I want you to wait for us at the Alexandria Airport, where we will be arriving. We will require at least a map of the city and maybe some help from your side once we know what we're exactly looking for." Vulkie said.
"Understood. Tomorrow in the afternoon, I will be waiting with the car. I am looking forward towards your visit, Miss Nouson. See you then!" Hassan replied and hung up the phone.
As soon as Vulkie had hung up the phone, she had grabbed her suitcase, loaded it with some clothes and with some ammunition for her trusty Colt 1911 and her revolver that she had inherited from her dad. It was a piece of junk, but it still did the job nonetheless.
As she shut her suitcase, she allowed herself to sit down for a bit on the bed and ponder, with the newspaper articles and headlines surrounding her.
"What are you up to, Mr. or Mrs. Mystery Dismemberer... Is this all about revenge? A childhood trauma? Or just to get a kick out of it." Vulkie thought.
Riza had made a point about the whole thing it revolved about - it was all about sex. And the fact that people had been missing their Johnson, meant that it was either a way to humiliate or exact revenge upon them.
As the time passed, Vulkie tried to wrap her mind around the case but couldn't come up with any other insights that would provide them with a viable lead.
*** cont in next post ***
*** The Next Morning ***
As Vulkie's alarm clock rang at 7.15 in the morning, she quickly stood up and got dressed and had a small breakfast. During her breakfast, she also made sure to clean her Colt 1911 and the revolver, just to make sure that they were at least usable. She imagined that the desert sand from the Sahara wouldn't do any good for her guns, so the least they deserved was a clean up in New York.
An hour later, she stood near the airplane that was to take them towards Cairo. The plane would leave around 9 o'clock and it would take at least a couple of hours time to reach Alexandria Airport.
As she pulled out her cigarette case and picked out a cigarette, Marc approached and pulled out his lighter. Vulkie lit her cigarette and offered a cigarette to Marc, who generously accepted and lit it himself as they waited for Riza and Molly to arrive at the airport.
"So Marc... Can you divulge me into why you went away for at least 3 years? There must be a reason for it, right?" Vulkie said, while looking out of the corner of her eye towards Marc.
As Marc blew out the cigarette smoke, he looked at Vulkie and said: "When the time is right, I will explain. But the time isn't right at the moment. And I would prefer if you don't ask me about my affairs again, thank you very much" Marc said, laying the subject to rest.
Vulkie didn't want to pressure Marc any further, so for the next 15 minutes, she tended to her cigarette and enjoyed the view of airplanes taking off and landing nearby.
As she put out her cigarette with the tip of her right shoe, she noticed that Molly and Riza were coming in at the same time. Vulkie waved them over and as Molly and Riza reached the plane, the pilot arrived as well.
"Good evening sir and ladies. We will be taking off in a short while, your cargo will be taken care of now. I suggest you get seated into the plane and we'll take off in a couple of minutes" the pilot said.
10 minutes later, they were on their way to Egypt...
As Marc approached the stairs to his apartment, he heard a familiar voice behind him. "Marc Lacrimosa," she said. He knew that voice anywhere. "Pansy Dew," Marc said turning to face the beautiful woman. She walked up the steps towards him.
"You left," she said, "without saying goodbye. Gone for three years."
"Pansy..." Marc started. Could he explains to her? What would she think? "I'm sorry," he said quickly.
"Save it," she replied wrapping g her arms around his neck and pulled him close. "I'll forgive you this time," she whispered in his ear. Then she pulled him close and kissed him on the lips.
They made their way to his apartment studio, still holding and kissing, slamming his bedroom door opened and falling onto to the bed.
"I've missed you," she whispered, and the rest of the night was eventful.
**The Next Morning**
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