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.
Gopher to the Sleuth Gods
Marc knows that Riza does nothing without the approval of the Prince. She is after all the Princes' spiritual advisor and he has given her power over all that is his. Marc has been manipulating her using hypnotism which he learned from the Order of Socrates.
"Hellfire." Molly said, planting her hands on her waspish waist as she peered around her suite. "What do I have for Cairo! It's not even in season... perhaps the white pantsuit. Now where did I put that..."
Three hours later and at least several curses uttered, Molly had packed three suitcases for their trip along with no less than six hatboxes. "I wonder if there will be photographers." She thought to herself.
It was time for her nightly ritual. Washing her porcelain face and brushing her teeth, she finally sat at the vanity in her room and began brushing out her long auburn hair. 50 strokes on each side... as she stroked her eyes glazed, lost in memories of another time in Cairo, chasing an amulet with her team of friends.
She couldn't help but wonder if her ex husband Jack Billings was in Cairo. She didn't have the heart to look for him, didn't know which side of Jack she would encounter next- if she should ever encounter him. He had taken their daughter with him, and though Molly never spoke of it she was relieved. The child, however much she loved her, was tainted through and through with Jack's bile. It was a new life, a new time. But still there was an awareness everywhere she went, wondering if she would see them again...
"To hell with them." She murmured to her reflection, and casting a critical eye on her glowing tresses, she got up and went to tuck herself into bed.
The next morning:
"I wonder if Marc knows there's lipstick on the side of his neck." Molly said conversationally to Riza out of the corner of her mouth, waving and smiling at Vulkie and Marc as they approached. Riza gave a smirk in response.
"It looks like that dreadful color Pansy Dew is always wearing." Molly said in sotto voice as they approached slowly. "An awful orangey red. I must ask her where she gets it so that I can personally burn the warehouse of the manufacturer--DARLINGS, SO LOVELY TO SEE YOU!"
She affectionately cupped Marcs neck, cooing as she swiped the
color off. What an idiot, that IS Pansy Dew's demonic color. She thought.
"Now darlings, are we going to wait around or get on this monster?" She asked, peering at the plane in front of them. "And will anyone help us with our bags? Mine are still in the trunk, theres quite a bit!"
Riza draped herself across her armchair in a most unfeminine manner and heaved a heavy sigh. So much had happened in the last 24 hours. She was exhausted, but at the same time she felt that strange tingle of excitement she thought had long vanished. If this case was going in the direction she thought, well then it could mean…no, she was too tired to think about that right now.
As Riza’s eyelids began to droop, she remembered that she had to prepare for the trip. She hoisted herself up and meandered over to the bed. She reached an arm down and pulled a suitcase out from beneath. Inside was everything she would need for a trip: a few changes of clothes and shoes, a couple of handguns, and a generous assortment of gleaming daggers. Nothing but the essentials. It always helped to be prepared in case she had to make a quick getaway.
Yawning, Riza undressed and hopped into the shower. She turned the hot water knob as far as it would go and leaned her head against the wall, letting the scalding hot water run down her back. As the room began to steam up, Riza began to relax.
Not even a minute later, the phone rang. “Dammit,” Riza cursed, and hurried to pick up. “Yes?” Her brow furrowed. “I’m busy; I don’t have time to take your case.” A pause. “Did you hear me or are you deaf?” Still, the voice continued to chatter away on the other end of the line. “HEY!” Riza screamed into the receiver. “If you didn’t go around sticking your dick into corpses, you wouldn’t be in this mess!” She slammed the receiver down.
The next morning:
As Riza and Molly walked side by side, Molly commented on the conspicuous lipstick stain on Marc’s neck. Riza smirked. How very like him. And for some strange reason, Riza felt comforted by the predictability of her companions. It was strange, but it was like…coming home. No matter where she went with these people, and no matter what they would encounter and discover along the way, she knew things would turn out okay in the end.
*** Late afternoon, Cairo ***
As the plane landed, and moved towards the hangar, she looked out of the window. She could already see Hassan waiting at his car, an old fancy Rolls Royce that he borrowed from another contact. "Probably an underworld figure" Vulkie murmered to herself, and she rolled her eyes. Hassan always wanted to make sure that she felt comfortable, when she was in Cairo.
As the detectives exited the plane and waited for their luggage to be unloaded, Hassan sped his way towards the detectives. "Miss Nouson - how good to see you. I have been waiting here for at least an hour. How was your flight?" Hassan asked, while shaking Vulkie's hand. "It was fine Hassan, we had no issues whatsoever. May I introduce you to a couple of friends of mine?" Vulkie replied.
"Of course, of course. Any friend of you is a friend of mine" Hassan said, and took a bow.
"This is Mr. Marc Lacrimosa" Vulkie said, nodding her head to the left side. Hassan shook Marc's hand. "And this is Miss Riza Hawkeye" Vulkie said, nodding her head to the right side. While Riza gave Hassan an investigating stare, she ultimately caved in and let him shake her hand, albeit she wasn't too pleasured by the gesture.
"And this" Vulkie began, but was rudely interrupted by Molly: "I must insist darlings, that I have to prep myself for whatever we have to do today. I mean, being cramped up in an airplane for at least 5 hours doesn't do anything good to a lady such as I. Molly Maltese, what a pleasure to meet you." Molly said, while initiating the handshake herself. Hassan, surprised by this, took her hand and shook it. "No, no, Miss Maltese, the pleasure is all mine." he replied.
"Hassan, now that we have met eachother, I do agree with Miss Maltese. We could use a place where we can freshen up and relax a bit, and that could also serve as our base of operations." Vulkie said.
"Just follow me to the car, detectives. I have just the place for you." Hassan said.
*Cont in next post ***
Hassan quickly began to speak in Arabic and while Vulkie tried to understand, she never took the time to learn it properly. But by Hassan's gestures, she could see that he instructed the luggage to be loaded into the Rolls Royce. As the luggage was loaded, Vulkie took place in th front next to Hassan, while the others took place in the back of the car.
"My word Vulkie - you do know how to get around." Molly said, while staring at the back of Vulkie's posture. As Vulkie turned her head, she looked at Molly and replied: "But of course I know how to get around. I didn't spend all these years traveling the world just because I want to see a bit of it. I also wanted to have an intensive network who could keep me informed of certain... business aspects" Vulkie said, grinning a bit as she reminded herself of her time as a jewelry thief.
It took at least 40 minutes until they reached the safehouse. As Hassan unloaded the luggage, the detectives took a look at their new headquarters. "There is a bedroom for each of you, and also a bathroom. If so needed, you can always ring me up if something is needed. Food, drinks, guns, ammunition - you name it, and I can get it in the hour!" Hassan said.
As each of the detectives took care of their luggage and stored it in their room, they met up 10 minutes later in the main dining room with Hassan.
"Hassan, there's a couple of things we need. First, we need a map of Cairo" Riza said, taking charge of the conversation. Hassan went towards the living room, rummaged a bit in a dresser, and returned back to the detectives with a map.
"Here you are Miss Hawkeye. I've already been so good as to mark the location of your headquarters here in Cairo" Hassan said, while laying out the map.
"Molly, would you be so friendly as to mark the social spots for the town? We might need to drop by one or two of them, to gather information" Vulkie said, while looking at Molly.
***Cont in next post***
As Molly was going through her mind, she marked at least five different places. "These are the places with the, somewhat, higher clientele. We can surely find some information that we would need for our investigation." Molly said, while looking over the map and verifying that she had noted the right places.
"Good work Molly" Marc said. "By the way, I'm not sure if we had told Vulkie yet..." Marc began, while Vulkie interrupted: "Told me what?" Vulkie asked, thinking of many things all together what they might've withheld from her.
"We haven't shown you exactly what we found yet, right?" Marc said, while Riza and Molly stared at eachother. They had been so preoccupied, that they hadn't even gone over the evidence with her.
As Molly reached in her pocket, she lay two things on the dinner table. A note which the killer left behind and that led Riza and Molly to meet up with Marc at the brothel, and a button, that had a rose emblem on it, shaped in the letter S.
"My word... I believe I have heard about such a button before." Hassan said, looking at the detectives. As the detectives looked at eachother and then at Hassan, their curiosity took the upper hand.
"Where have you heard about such a button Hassan?" Riza asked, still glaring at him. Everyone waited in anticipation as Hassan began his story. "I believe there was a murder case here, a month or two ago. Now, I don't know the finer details, but I do know that the local police had found a button such as that. I believe it had a sunflower emblem on it, but I am not 100 percent sure about that" Hassan said. "What I do know, is that the victim, a Mr. Qadir Ben Siri, was found at this spot" Hassan said, marking the spot on the map, "and that it was quite gruesome. The details, I don't recall exactly, but involved something about..." Hassan said, while Riza cut him off.
"Ok, so we now have at least three different things we can do..." Riza began (will end in next post)
"We can either go towards the crime scene and look it over one more time, ask around a bit." Riza said, pointing at the crime scene marked on the map.
"Or we could go towards the social spots and ask around about Mr. Qadir Ben Siri. I'm sure that some people will... divulge us in why he could've been a target" Molly said, pointing at the five social spots she had marked.
"Or, we could go towards City Hall and dig up some information about this Mr. Qadir Ben Siri." Marc and Vulkie said simultaneously.
"Don't forget about the button detectives. It's probably in the evidence locker at the local police station, over here" Hassan said, marking the map.
As the detectives looked at eachother, they had to make sure that they knew where to go next...
If there was ever one way to describe Cairo, it was hot. Too hot. Delhi wasn't any better. Marc had been to both places many times in the past, and wasn't fond of either place. But, nevertheless, a case is a case, and when it comes to solving crimes with those around him, he cherished it. Marc looked Hassan in the eyes. Something didn't sit right with him, and Marc hoped it was nothing. He was Vulkie's friend, and an important person at the moment.
Marc had been quick to jump on going to the Hall of Records. Research was a favorite. "I need your help," he told Riza. And they left Molly and Vulkie before anyone could object. They hailed a taxi and headed straight for City Hall.
"I should have mixed feelings about seeing you," Riza said. "And so should Molly after you left us for dead. " She turned and looked at him. "But mostly, I'm glad."
Marc nodded. "I am too," he said.
A short time later they were in the Hall of Records digging through files on Qadir Ben Siri. Which almost turned fruitless.
"Marc!" Riza exclaimed, " look at this!" Marc hurried over to her to see what she found. She showed him the file and what he read he couldn't believe.
Qadir Ben Siri had been part of a secret order called Sphinx , an order that had been rumored to take part in political assassinations. Marc picked up another paper. Ben Siri was a political figure he wasn't an ambassador. Was his death an inside job? His penis was cut off too. "Interesting," Marc said to himself.
Riza picked up a picture. It showed Qadir standing with several other men. Each men had a rose button on the breast of their suit, each button had an S on them. Standing with next to him was another man. Oddly enough, that man looked like Vulkie's contact, Hassan. "God," Marc said, "Riza, you don't think Vulkie knows, do you?"
"No," Riza said, "things like this are kept hush hush."
Still not a good thing. Hassan would have to act like he knows nothing to keep himself covered and keep anyone suspect him off his trail. Marc and Riza searched more and found Hassan's address.
They walked outside and up to the first car they found. "I need your car," Marc said grabbing the driver and throwing him out. Riza got in the passenger seat and they drove off.
Marc and Riza walked instead with each other, side by side. He flexed his wrist and the small gun appeared in the palm of his hand as Riza pulled out her gun.
"No need to knock," Marc said, knowing Hassan had not returned. In one quick motion he kicked in the door. No one was home. Good. Marc and Riza searched his bedroom. They found rose button. Marc closed his eyes and shook his head in disbelief.
Footsteps entered in the living room where Marc kicked in the door. Marc turned and faced him.
He was cut short as Riza hit him in the head, knocking him unconscious. They drug him back outside and put him in the back seat and Marc once again started driving.
"I know a place off the grid we can go."
Riza pulled out a mason jar full of chunky fluid. She looked at Marc and smiled an almost evil grin. "Lets have some fun," she said.
"How did you get that?" Marc asked with a disgusted look on his face.
"You don't wanna know."
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