This story contains sexually explicit scenes.
The building that housed Flamingo’s sat on the banks of the Ohio River. The joint had been an orphanage back in the 1890s. Access to the river and close proximity to three state lines lent to its usefulness – the place even had some history as a stopover in the Underground Railroad. Unfortunately, the orphanage went belly up in the early months of 1918 when its benefactor died from tuberculosis. And even with all its good location and history, the building had sat empty for twelve years before Dutch Winslow won it in a crap game from a down-on-his-luck public official.
While some men had lost everything they owned during the depression, Dutch Winslow made a killing from bootlegging and gambling. After prohibition was repealed, Dutch decided it was time to go legit. Winning the river property set the ball in motion. He completely renovated the first floor and gussied up the orphans’ rooms to make what was now Flamingo’s, the hottest hotel and nightclub in Cincinnati.
Most weekends, hastily parked cars littered the side streets while the main drag was lined with taxis and limousines waiting to expel men in silk hats and ladies in exotic furs. The uniformed doorman had ample opportunity to touch many a gloved hand and steal a lingering look at shapely gams in seamed stockings while the well-to-do stepped smugly from their vehicles. The bleating of the doorman’s whistle added harmony to the black stiletto heels tap-tap-tapping over the glistening pavement that led to the green canopied entrance.
Moe learned long ago to avoid the hoopla at the front. It belonged to the influential who would rather be in New York or Hollywood but had to settle for the bowels of Ohio. Moe opted for a side entry that bypassed the hotel lobby and forged a direct path to the bar in the club.
As usual, the rattling of ice in cocktail shakers, the pop of champagne corks, and the mix of giggling and husky laughter welcomed him at the crowded bar. A solid gold chain roped off the conviviality of the bar from the rest of the dining area, as if separating the classes. Moe got lucky and grabbed an empty stool when a couple, making their way to a table they’d probably been waiting on for hours, vacated it. Most people found the food and the atmosphere in the dining room worth the wait.
The entertainment wouldn’t start for another forty-five minutes. According to the billboard out front, this week’s headliner was Dolly Dawn and her Dawn Patrol. Moe had caught their act a time or two on the radio broadcasting from New York. The dame had the voice of an angel, and she outshined her band a million-to-one. Too bad Moe was here on business. It promised to be a great show.
He gave a nod to the bartender, Mick, and knew in a minute a shot glass full of bourbon would be sitting in front of him – an advantage of being a regular.
Moe scanned the mirrored L-shaped dining room filled with the rich-but-barely-famous. Violet smoke billowed its way upwards from the flicker of lighters and the tips of burning cigarettes. Glamorous dames, most of the unattached variety, were part of the décor. Politicians, businessmen, and the independently wealthy were snuggled behind tables draped with maroon silk and midnight velvet linens. At the center of each table, nestled on silver chafing dishes, piled high with shimmering flakes of ice, were olives, cocktail onions, radishes, and foot-high celery stalks. Layers of silver-etched china donned each place setting, while colossal brandy snifters as big as hot-air balloons sat waiting to be filled.
It was another full house. Moe could almost hear the cash register belch.
Dutch wouldn’t show for at least an hour – too much behind the scenes work with the show people – so Moe put a word in to the maitre’d that he was looking for Mrs. Winslow. The little trip to the pokey had raised too many questions in Moe’s mind, questions that Dutch just might know the answer to, but he’d kill some time chit-chatting with Kitty, just to reassure himself that the dame wasn’t more than met the eye.
Moe finished two shots and was thinking of ordering a third when Kitty Winslow made her entrance. She was Moses parting the Red Sea. Like a grand hostess greeting her guests, schmoozing with customers, and playing kissy-face with anyone who had clout, she moved through the throng. When she left each table, she made sure she left them smiling. Her husband might be the proprietor of the joint, but it was Mrs. Winslow that made it ooze with moneyed class.
Kitty was too discreet to mix with the folks who didn’t have the cash or the clout to get a table in the main dining room, so Moe wasn’t surprised when he received a whispered message, via Mick, to meet Kitty in Dutch’s office up on the second floor. Appearances were everything in a crowd like this, and Moe understood his black tie was only brown tweed. He nixed the third shot of bourbon and squeezed away from the bar, making sure to leave a decent tip for Mick. The bartender gave a friendly nod as he gathered up the clams. When Moe was wearing a little of the green, he could be generous to the working stiffs he shared a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle with.
Dutch had turned the entire second floor of the old orphanage into his working space. The elevator opened up to an entry that led to the main office. The office was flanked with private rooms, christened “cub rooms,” where a select few were granted special privileges. Kitty was waiting for him at the elevator when he arrived.
“This isn’t a convenient place or time, Mr. Gafferson.” She was as skittish as a virgin, shooting glances up and down the carpeted hallways.
“Yeah, well, after the day I’ve had, I’m not feeling too accommodating.”
Kitty’s eyes darted to the closed door of one of the cub rooms before whispering, “There’s a card game going on.” She grabbed Moe’s hand and tugged. “Come with me.”
She led him into Dutch’s main office, a room that Moe had been in many times. But now Moe recognized how similar it was to the library at the Winslow mansion. Only the leather chairs in this room were soft and broken in, and a mahogany desk was the focal point. The desk was clean except for a blotter, an inkwell, and a Tiffany lamp. Moe hadn’t realized what a neatness freak Dutch must be. It made him wonder what else he’d overlooked about his friend.
Kitty avoided the chairs and went straight to the small bar in the corner. “So what made today so horrible, Moe?” She turned a crystal glass right side up on the polished surface.
“Hurting a friend, playing tiddly-winks with the cops, missing Murrow on the radio – take your pick.”
Kitty unstopped a decanter and began to pour, but her hand shook and alcohol splashed onto the bar. When she swung around to face Moe, all the color had drained from her face. “The cops? What were you doing with the cops?”
A little fear had a way of putting different classes of people on the same playing field. Moe pushed his advantage. “They’re looking to identify who was tail tickling with Schmidt and possibly carried away evidence from a crime scene.”
“But I didn’t take anything,” she said with just an edge of panic.
“Except for a little of the man’s duck butter?”
“Don’t be vulgar, Mr. Gafferson.” Kitty took a man-sized slug from the high ball glass and peeked over the rim at Moe. When she spoke again the panic was gone, and in its place a kittenish mewing. “Did you give them my name?”
Moe frowned. The dame was like everyone else in his world. Sooner or later self-preservation won out over love. Grief runs its course, and that course can be pretty short. Kitty was becoming a marvel at changing gears to whatever the scene called for.
“Would giving your name to the cops really be so bad, if you have nothing to hide?”
“Why should I get mixed up in a murder I had nothing to do with?”
Misleading a client about whose murder he was actually being accused of didn’t upset Moe, especially if it meant he might get some answers. “I was asking myself the same question when a fat cop with bad breath was dishing me dirt.” Moe plopped down in one of the leather chairs, crossed his legs and leaned back in what he meant to be a thoughtful pose. “Why should I take the rap for someone who was holding out on me?”
“I swear on my mother’s life, Moe, I don’t know anything more than what I’ve told you.”
“Too bad I don’t know your mother.”
Kitty turned back to the bar. Ice clinked inside of glass as she set her drink down. Her shoulders slumped and a deep sigh made its way from her chest. “I don’t know what else to tell you, Mr. Gafferson. I’m just a woman who had an affair like any common street tramp. Just ask Dutch, he’ll be glad to tell you all about me.”
It figured Dutch wouldn’t let the affair settle and die. Moe didn’t blame him. Cheating was a hard thing to get over. But that had nothing to do with Moe.
“Talking to Dutch is exactly what I had in mind.”
“Go ahead. He knows I hired you.”
“Oh? You finally tipped your mitt?”
Kitty threw back her head and laughed – not a sexy laugh, but one crammed with sarcasm. “No, Moe. It wasn’t me. One of the servants told him about your visit to our home. He figured it out on his own.” She turned around, embracing herself like she was warding off the cold. “So you see, there’s no reason for you to continue now. I’ll be sending you a bank note – with my husband’s permission, of course.”
“It could be that easy. Except it’s not. I still got the law on my back.”
“So you didn’t give my name to the police?”
“I’m still ruminating over the idea. I want to talk to Dutch first.”
Kitty laughed again and took another healthy gulp of booze. “He might tell you to give me up. He’d see it as a scratch at the surface of justice.”
“Maybe. Cuckolded husbands tend to be bitter that way.” It was a crappy thing to say, but sometimes Moe spoke without thinking. Mrs. Winslow seemed to let the words float right by her. He shifted in his chair. “Mind if I wait for him here?”
“I’ll tell him you’re waiting,” she said, and she slowly made her way to the door. She reached for the knob but stopped short of twisting it. Without turning around, she whispered, “I suppose I should thank you.”
“Forget it doll. The bank note will do the trick.”
Her sigh of resignation hung in the air long after she’d left and closed the door. She might have been waiting for some sympathy from Moe over the jam she’d got herself in, but as Moe saw it, the broad had a lot more going for her than most dames. Dutch was Catholic, so marriage was for life – good or bad. It wasn’t likely he would toss her out, not unless she made a habit of suburb sinning. She’d recover just fine, sashaying with the black tie crowd downstairs.
He fixed himself a shot of bourbon while he waited for Dutch. It would be a few minutes before the club’s show began and Dutch could make his way upstairs. Moe considered rifling through the desk drawers. In another man’s office – a man who wasn’t a friend – it’d be no problem, but Dutch was still a friend, at least for now. Besides Dutch had his office rigged with all kinds of thingamajigs. For all Moe knew, someone could be watching him right now. He knew Dutch had installed one-way mirrors to the cub rooms behind the midnight velvet curtains a casual observer might think were used just to match the décor of the club. Moe knew because he had stood lookout for Dutch on more than one occasion.
Even though Dutch had decided to keep things honest years ago, he still allowed high stake card games in the cub rooms. The participants won and lost a boatload of cash. The one-way mirrors were Dutch’s way of keeping an eye out for flaring tempers.
Moe remembered Kitty saying there was a card game going on now. Watching it was as good a way as any to kill time.
The scene was mostly a familiar one: six men huddled around a card table, jackets removed, ties loosened, smoke swirling from cigars and cigarillos, and piles of chips sitting in front of each man, with some piles larger than others.
But this game had something none of the other games that Moe witnessed had – a nude blonde standing in the corner. The dame was no bigger than a minute. Her hair was pushed back off her face to reveal pale, parchment skin. Her eyes were as big as silver dollars, blue as poker chips, and just as opaque. She didn’t try to hide her nakedness, but stood like a marble statue: legs stiff, torso motionless. Her titties favored a couple of fried eggs with very little yolk, and counting her ribs was as easy as counting piano keys. Her quim whiskers were also blond, but they were sparse and barely did the job of covering her cradle. Moe could almost be convinced the chick was a statue except for the bit of life she showed by way of clenched fists.
The card players were keeping up the game as if the blond babe didn’t exist. All except for one. The yegg with the biggest pile was eyeing her like a starved man at a banquet. He was a wolf, and when he licked his lips, he did everything but salivate. Moe immediately disliked him on principle.
By the looks of the pot – red, white, and blue chips mixed with a few greenbacks to make a nice-sized centerpiece – the hand was well underway. Moe couldn’t see what Wolfman was holding, but he could easily make out the hand of one of the chaps with his back to Moe’s view. The guy had three aces, the eight of clubs, and a three of hearts.
The group threw in their discards and the dealer drawled how many for each around the table. Wolfman drew one card, peeked at his hand, smiled and licked his chops, and then gave a wink to the blonde. She appeared oblivious.
The lucky chap with three aces threw away the eight and three and drew two more cards. When Mr. Lucky revealed his two new cards, Moe was suddenly glad he wasn’t betting against him. He’d drawn a six of diamonds and the missing ace of clubs. Four aces was a nuts hand in anybody’s game.
Apparently Wolfman had been winning big all night. He had a worthy pile sitting in front of him. Mr. Lucky, on the other hand, was down to his last few chips, but Moe really liked his chances.
The opener started the betting. Mr. Lucky raised, and Wolfman raised back. Everyone folded except the opener, who like a fool, called the bet. Mr. Lucky and Wolfman raised again and the opener timidly folded, leaving just Wolfman and Mr. Lucky.
Mr. Lucky tossed his last chip on the pile and cocked his head toward the blonde. Moe would have liked to hear the audio on this exchange. The blonde surprisingly showed another sign of life and blushed like a boiled lobster. Wolfman shrugged his shoulders and half-heartedly shook his head, no. Every pair of eyes was on Mr. Lucky.
Moe figured the game was over until Mr. Lucky snapped his fingers in the air toward the dame. The card players turned her way as if they’d just realized she was in the room. Her eyes sparked with anger and then went as blank as before. Mr. Lucky snapped his fingers again, and the blonde began to move, slowly, seductively, gliding her hands over her boyish frame and gyrating her hips. She cupped her tiny breasts and then flicked at their tips until each nipple plumped up like jigger bites. She turned around and slid her fingers over her ass, tugging at the double mounds and giving glimpses of the rosebud between. Mr. Lucky snapped his fingers again and as quickly as she started, she stopped. Two of the gawking men hurriedly removed their roaming hands from their crotches.
Wolfman smirked. It reminded Moe of a picture one of the gossip sheets had run of Fatty Arbuckle a few years back before his rape trial – lewd enough to think he had the world by the collar. The louse nodded his agreement, and the entire group watched as Mr. Lucky laid down his hand. Moe didn’t have to hear to know everyone was impressed. Everyone but Wolfman. As Mr. Lucky reached to scoop up the pot, Wolfman stopped him by laying down his own cards, one at a time – a five, a six, a seven, an eight, and a nine, all spades – a straight spade flush.
Moe didn’t trust anyone who could be so fortunate. He expected Mr. Lucky to feel the same, maybe jump up, challenge the hand, show a little muscle. But instead, the fop relaxed back in his seat, his thumbs hooked in his suspenders, smoking his cigarillo.
Wolfman didn’t bother scooping up his haul before he bounded out of his seat and went creeping over to the blonde. Within seconds, he was all over her like ugly on ape: pawing at a breast, slobbering at her neck, and probing her pussy with his fat fingers. The rest of the men tried not to watch, but they were as unsuccessful as Moe at turning away, and no one bothered to stop it. Not Mr. Lucky, not the other men, and not Moe.
Wolfman pulled back long enough to unzip his pants and let them fall to his knees. His nearsighted cock was short but thick, as thick as the end of a baseball bat. The knob-end had already worked its way out of the draw drapes, pushing the foreskin back over his shaft. He spun the blonde around and shoved her hard against the wall. Her arms barely had time to brace for the impact. She didn’t fight or scream or cry. She played like a malleable doll and let her body be posed, spreading her legs when Wolfman’s hands slapped at the inside of her thighs, bending at the waist when he shoved her head down, and holding still when he spanked her ass until it flamed from his handprint.
The sight of the blonde bent over, her pussy poised between her thighs, and her lewdly spread anus, filled Moe with revulsion. Wolfman rubbed his chubby cock, and tiny spits of pre-cum dribbled in the slit of the blonde’s back door. Moe tasted bile in the back of his throat. He’d seen enough. He pounded on the one-way mirror, but no one inside the room seemed to notice. He fumbled with the curtain, trying not to think about Wolfman’s cockhead pressing against the blonde’s puckered flesh. He was going to break it up. He scrambled for the office door, slung it open, and charged right into Dutch Winslow.
“Whoa! Better get your flaps down, Moe, or you’re going to take off.”
Moe sputtered he was so appalled. “Damn it, Dutch. Do you know what’s going on in the cub room?”
“Stay out of it, Moe.”
“Stay out of it? Listen, Dutch…”
Dutch grabbed Moe’s lapels and jerked him close enough to touch chin hairs. “No! You listen. When are you going to learn to keep your nose out of business that doesn’t concern you?”
Dutch’s outburst stunned Moe, but only momentarily. “Some things a decent man has to make his business, Dutch. A month ago I would have called you a decent man.”
“Come here, you fathead.” Dutch dragged Moe by his lapels back into his office and yanked back the midnight velvet curtain. For a split second, Dutch hesitated at the sight of Wolfman porking the little blonde’s ass. But he recovered quickly. “Look again, Moe. Do you know who these people are?”
Moe looked at Wolfman. He tried not to watch the man’s hairy ass cheeks clench and release as he pounded into the blonde. “I don’t recognize him.” Moe was still looking when Wolfman pulled his pecker from her ass. His fat cock left a gaping hole and a stream of lather trickled from its rim. Except for tremors in her upthrust flanks, the dame still didn’t move.
“Not that fucker. The fucker that brought the girl. The man who lost the bet.”
Moe looked at Mr. Lucky. The man was still facing away from the one-way mirror. Apparently, he’d grown bored of the corner action, because he was casually shuffling the deck of cards and smoking his cigarillo. There was something familiar about the man, but from the back view Moe couldn’t place him. “I haven’t got a good look at his face.”
“I’ll tell you who it is.” Dutch ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “That, Moe, is Councilman Karl Boch.”
Moe studied the man hard. When Moe had seen Boch with Lindbergh in the Cincinnati Enquirer, he knew he didn’t like Boch’s politics. When Moe learned Boch’s limo had frequented Schmidt’s cottage, he knew he didn’t like the company Boch kept. And now, as the little blonde straightened, her buttocks flaming red, while the son-of-a-bitch casually dealt the next round of cards, Moe decided he absolutely hated the bastard.
Rough Cut originally appeared in Ruthie’s Club http://www.ruthiesclub.com/
Copyright © 2004 by Desdmona.